The center position has been slowly getting phased out of the league due to the small ball but there are many big men in the middle available in the 2016 NBA Free Agency. As part of a five-part series, here is Sportsrageous’ list of the top five centers in this year’s free agency. Where will Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside rank?
- Andre Drummond, 22 – Detroit Pistons (RFA)
Andre Drummond is the best young center in the NBA and he will enter free agency as an RFA. He is a great finisher at the rim and he has improved his grasp on the pick-and-roll. He is also a great rebounder and shot blocker.
The 22-year-old was also named to his first All-Star Game this season. However, his value takes a hit due to his woes at the free throw line. The 22-year-old is an important part of the Pistons’ future and they will likely re-sign him to a maximum contract.
- Hassan Whiteside, 26 – Miami Heat (UFA)
If Hassan Whiteside was younger, he might be above Drummond on this list. He is an elite defender in the paint as he was voted third in the Defensive of the Year Award. He can easily pile up triple-doubles while also having good finishing at the rim.
Whiteside’s main problem is his maturity but showed improvement on that aspect later in the season. However, he’s still prone to slipping up when he gets a lot of money so he needs to sign with a team that will set his priorities straight. The Spurs are perfect for developing him into a much better player but the Heat won’t go down without a fight.
- Dwight Howard, 30 – Houston Rockets (PO)
It’s easy to think that Dwight Howard is past his prime considering he has not been the same player he was several years ago. Howard was the best center in the NBA when he led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009.
However, injuries have caused him to regress and his desire to win has been in question. Despite all of those, Howard is still a good defender and he will likely sign with a team that will make use of his pick-and-roll ability.
- Bismack Biyombo, 23 – Toronto Raptors (PO)
A great performance in the playoffs has given Bismack Biyombo a great chance at a big contract this offseason. He was big for the Raptors when Jonas Valanciunas went down with an injury and he finally showed his potential that made him a lottery pick in 2011.
Biyombo is an athletic player with very long arms that will cause problems on defense. He still has a lot of improvement to make in the offensive end but the potential is there. He’s open to taking a discount and stay in Toronto.
- Festus Ezeli, 26 – Golden State Warriors (RFA)
Festus Ezeli missed a chunk of this season due to a knee injury but he was able to become a big part of the Golden State Warriors’ rotation. In his fourth season, Ezeli averaged 7.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, all career highs, in 46 games.
He has undergone surgery on both his knees so he’s a risk for teams. However, he has improved his offensive game and his defense is underrated. He is also an effective rebounder and he has a soft touch around the rim.
Honorable Mentions: Tim Duncan, 40 – San Antonio Spurs (PO), Al Jefferson, 31 – Charlotte Hornets (UFA), Joakim Noah, 31 – Chicago Bulls (UFA), Zaza Pachulia, 32 – Dallas Mavericks (UFA), Ian Mahinmi, 29 – Indiana Pacers (UFA)
Photo Courtesy: @youngwhiteside/Twitter