Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas

Edit: I forgot to again give props to our newest writer, William Lou, who took on some of the grunt work and helped collect some of the stats for this article.

After a bit of a break, here is the long overdue rankings for the centre/center position. You can read the point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward rankings.

Now to be honest, I’m a little flummoxed about this ranking. No, it’s not because I have difficulty with the rankings, but with how to actually spell centre/center. See, I’ve always been very insistent on using the Canadian spelling and pronunciation of words, going so far as banning the alphabet song on one of my kid’s CDs, when they were younger, because the singer sang “zee” instead of “zed”.

But when it came to this particular position, I’ve always used the American spelling as if it were somehow a word unto itself. I’m sure it was because that was always how I read it in all the basketball books and on TV. So what do YOU think about the centre/center issue?

As for the actual rankings, this was one of the easier positions to not only narrow down, but rank. There were a few that I left out, most notably Samuel Dalembert, who looks to be the starting center/centre for the Mavericks this year, and Andrew Bynum, who I really have no clue whether to expect him to even play this year. If healthy, he’s a top 5 centre/center, but he also could end up being another cautionary tale about investing too heavily in often injured big men without a strong work ethic.

As with the previous rankings, I looked at a number of advanced statistics for each player and tried to get a good snapshot of where each player stood in comparison to one another.

Player
Rt Rank
PER
Rank
WS
Rank
WS48
Rank
WP48
Rank
WP
Rank
Tyson Chandler
3.8
19.10
12
9.3
2
0.207
1
0.294
3
13.3
1
Marc Gasol
5
19.58
10
11.5
1
0.197
2
0.176
9
10.2
3
Andre Drummond
7.6
21.51
3
4.5
19
0.172
6
0.313
1
8.1
9
Tiago Splitter
8.2
18.61
15
8.2
5
0.197
2
0.187
8
7.8
11
Joakim Noah
8.6
18.19
16
7.3
8
0.145
13
0.225
4
11.4
2
Brook Lopez
8.8
24.77
1
9.0
3
0.191
4
0.117
19
5.5
17
Al Horford
9
19.96
8
8.8
4
0.153
10
0.143
16
8.2
7
Dwight Howard
9.2
19.79
9
7.6
7
0.134
15
0.164
11
9.3
4
Larry Sanders
9.8
18.92
14
6.0
13
0.149
11
0.208
5
8.4
6
Anderson Varejao
10
21.63
2
3.3
26
0.173
5
0.312
2
5.9
15
Nikola Pekovic
10.4
20.24
6
6.7
9
0.163
8
0.149
15
6.1
14
Kosta Koufos
11.4
17.29
20
6.5
10
0.171
7
0.188
7
7.1
13
DeAndre Jordan
11.4
17.24
21
6.2
11
0.148
12
0.197
6
8.2
7
JaVale McGee
12.6
20.75
5
4.9
18
0.163
8
0.158
12
4.7
20
Al Jefferson
14.2
20.90
4
7.7
6
0.143
14
0.082
26
4.4
21
Greg Monroe
15.2
19.44
11
5.9
14
0.105
23
0.140
17
7.8
11
Nikola Vucevic
15.2
17.74
17
5.7
15
0.106
21
0.152
14
8.1
9
Omer Asik
16
14.84
28
5.5
17
0.108
20
0.169
10
8.7
5
Robin Lopez
17.2
18.98
13
5.6
16
0.126
18
0.113
21
5.0
18
Roy Hibbert
17.8
17.50
19
6.1
12
0.129
16
0.103
23
4.9
19
Emeka Okafor
20.4
15.70
25
4.5
19
0.104
24
0.134
18
5.7
16
DeMarcus Cousins
21.6
20.20
7
4.4
22
0.092
27
0.056
27
2.7
25
Nene
21.8
16.92
22
4.0
23
0.116
19
0.107
22
3.7
23
Jonas Valanciunas
22.2
15.49
26
3.9
24
0.127
17
0.116
20
3.6
24
Andrew Bogut
23.6
13.87
29
1.7
29
0.106
21
0.153
13
2.5
26
Enes Kanter
24.8
17.70
18
2.3
28
0.101
25
0.100
25
2.2
28
Spencer Hawes
24.8
15.95
24
4.5
19
0.096
26
0.049
28
2.3
27
Marcin Gortat
25.2
15.37
27
3.4
25
0.086
28
0.102
24
4.0
22
Chris Kaman
28.6
16.48
23
1.6
30
0.058
30
-0.018
30
-0.5
30
Kendrick Perkins
28.8
8.41
30
2.5
27
0.062
29
0.012
29
0.8
29

A few things jump out right away. Immediately, this appears to add more fuel to the fire that Bryan Colangelo made a huge blunder not selecting Andre Drummond. Bear in mind that Drummond played the fourth fewest minutes of any centre/center on the list, barely ahead of just Enes Kanter, Chris Kaman and JaVale McGee, so it will be interesting to see whether he can keep up that production with more minutes.

On the down side, the Raptor’s own Jonas Valanciunas doesn’t fare all that well which is a little surprising since he had such a promising rookie season. The thing to remember is that these ratings don’t take into consideration potential, of which Valanciunas has plenty of. Still, it will hopefully give a little perspective to those who might expect to much from the young Lithuanian this season.

Raptor fans can take consolation that they aren’t Oklahoma Thunder fans (or maybe not), since Perkins looks horrible, yet still has two more years on his rather large contract.

Player
TS%
Rank
OR%
Rank
DRR%
Rank
TRB%
Rank
Stl Rate
Rank
Blk Rate
Rank
Tyson Chandler
67.4
1
14.1
5
24.3
10
17.0
13
1
24
3
17
Jonas Valanciunas
61.3
2
9.6
21
20.5
21
15.0
20
0.6
29
4.2
12
Tiago Splitter
60.7
3
8.8
22
20.3
22
14.9
24
1.6
7
2.3
23
DeAndre Jordan
60.6
4
12.7
9
22.4
16
17.7
9
1.3
14
4.7
9
JaVale McGee
58.9
5
12.6
10
17.1
28
14.9
24
1.1
18
8.5
1
Enes Kanter
58.9
5
14.5
4
18.6
26
16.5
16
1.4
12
2.3
23
Kosta Koufos
58.6
7
13.3
6
21.2
19
17.4
10
1.2
16
4.4
10
Andre Drummond
58.0
8
15.4
2
27.2
5
21.1
3
2.5
1
6.1
4
Dwight Howard
57.4
9
10.4
18
27.4
4
19.2
5
1.6
7
4.9
8
Robin Lopez
57.3
10
12.4
11
13.4
30
12.9
30
0.8
27
5
7
Nikola Pekovic
57.0
11
13.0
7
19.0
24
16.1
18
1.1
18
2
26
Brook Lopez
56.7
12
10.8
16
16.1
29
13.4
28
0.8
27
5.2
6
Al Horford
56.2
13
8.2
24
23.0
14
15.0
20
1.5
11
2.2
25
Marc Gasol
55.9
14
7.6
26
18.9
25
13.2
29
1.6
7
4.1
13
Omer Asik
55.8
15
12.8
8
31.0
1
22.0
2
0.9
25
2.7
20
Marcin Gortat
54.3
16
7.6
26
24.0
12
15.6
19
1.1
18
3.9
14
Nene
53.6
17
6.7
30
20.6
20
13.7
26
1.7
5
1.8
28
Joakim Noah
53.4
18
12.2
12
22.6
15
17.4
10
1.7
5
4.4
10
Nikola Vucevic
53.3
19
12.0
13
28.4
3
20.2
4
1.2
16
2.4
22
Chris Kaman
53.1
20
8.1
25
22.1
17
15.0
20
1.1
18
3
17
Anderson Varejao
52.9
21
16.9
1
30.1
2
23.2
1
2.1
3
1.3
30
Greg Monroe
52.8
22
9.9
19
23.6
13
16.6
15
2.1
3
1.6
29
Larry Sanders
52.6
23
12.0
13
25.8
9
18.6
8
1.4
12
7.6
2
DeMarcus Cousins
52.4
24
10.9
15
27.0
6
18.8
6
2.4
2
1.9
27
Al Jefferson
52.1
25
7.0
28
25.9
8
16.4
17
1.6
7
2.7
20
Spencer Hawes
51.4
26
8.5
23
21.7
18
15.0
20
0.6
29
3.9
14
Emeka Okafor
49.2
27
10.7
17
26.8
7
18.7
7
1.1
18
3
17
Roy Hibbert
49.0
28
14.8
3
17.4
27
17.0
13
0.9
25
6.7
3
Kendrick Perkins
48.1
29
7.0
28
19.5
23
13.7
26
1.1
18
3.2
16
Andrew Bogut
46.0
30
9.8
20
24.1
11
17.3
12
1.3
14
5.5
5

In terms of True Shooting Percentage, most of the players that finished in the top 10 are defensive players who rarely took a shot more than two feet away from the rim and are not known for the offense. Also in the top 10, though, are Valanciunas and Enes, two young players with plenty of offensive skills. In fact, both players were below the median in shots coming from assists, which tells you they create their own shots more than most of their contemporaries.

This highlights the promise both these players have on the offensive end.

On the other end of the scale are Greg Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins, who both came out of the 2010 draft and who are both primarily offensive players with advanced post moves and finished near the bottom in True Shooting Percentage, highlighting that they still have a long way to go in that area. Both also not surprisingly finished near the bottom in block percentage, but in the top five in steal percentage, thanks to their quick hands. That doesn’t necessarily mean either one is a good defender, though.

Valanciunas still needs to show a lot of improvement on the boards, as he is near the bottom in this area, despite the physical skills and attitude.

Player
DWS
Rank
DRating
Rank
PPP
Rank
Iso
Rank
Post up
Rank
P&R
Rank
Spot up
Rank
Marc Gasol
5.4
1
98
2
0.76
5
0.62
3
0.66
6
0.77
8
0.94
17
Roy Hibbert
4.9
2
97
1
0.86
19
0.8
22
0.79
18
0.92
21
0.92
15
Dwight Howard
4.8
3
100
7
0.74
2
0.84
24
0.58
1
0.76
7
0.8
5
Joakim Noah
4.7
4
99
3
0.81
6
0.78
19
0.73
9
0.91
19
0.82
7
Al Horford
4.1
5
102
12
0.84
13
0.73
12
0.79
18
0.78
10
1.03
25
Larry Sanders
3.7
6
99
3
0.84
13
0.62
3
0.7
7
0.81
15
1.1
28
Emeka Okafor
3.7
6
99
3
0.81
6
0.66
6
0.76
14
0.88
17
0.87
9
Tiago Splitter
3.5
8
100
7
0.81
6
0.79
21
0.64
3
1
28
0.94
17
Omer Asik
3.5
8
103
15
0.87
23
0.74
14
0.74
11
0.97
26
0.9
11
Al Jefferson
3.3
10
104
17
0.9
29
0.98
27
0.79
18
0.94
23
1.01
24
DeAndre Jordan
3.2
11
101
10
0.86
19
0.8
22
0.85
25
0.72
6
0.91
13
Greg Monroe
3.2
11
105
21
0.87
23
0.74
14
0.93
30
0.77
8
0.88
10
Kendrick Perkins
3.0
13
102
12
0.75
4
0.64
5
0.83
21
0.78
10
0.78
4
Nikola Vucevic
2.9
14
105
21
0.84
13
0.75
17
0.89
28
0.66
5
0.91
13
Spencer Hawes
2.8
15
104
17
0.89
28
0.73
12
0.9
29
0.81
15
0.95
19
Nene
2.7
16
101
10
0.84
13
0.74
14
0.63
2
0.9
18
0.98
21
Tyson Chandler
2.6
17
104
17
0.81
6
0.78
19
0.64
3
1.11
30
0.9
11
Brook Lopez
2.6
17
105
21
0.86
19
0.7
8
0.88
27
0.98
27
0.86
8
Kosta Koufos
2.5
19
103
15
0.87
23
1.06
28
0.78
16
0.61
3
1.05
26
Andre Drummond
2.3
20
99
3
0.82
11
0.86
25
0.77
15
0.78
10
0.92
15
DeMarcus Cousins
2.3
20
106
26
0.86
19
0.86
25
0.74
11
0.93
22
1
22
JaVale McGee
2.2
22
102
12
0.84
13
0.71
10
0.75
13
0.8
14
1
22
Nikola Pekovic
2.1
23
106
26
0.83
12
0.71
10
0.72
8
0.91
19
0.97
20
Marcin Gortat
2.1
23
105
21
0.84
13
0.68
7
0.65
5
0.96
25
1.17
29
Chris Kaman
1.6
25
105
21
0.87
23
1.15
29
0.78
16
1.05
29
0.71
2
Jonas Valanciunas
1.5
26
106
26
0.9
29
1.18
30
0.84
24
0.95
24
0.81
6
Andrew Bogut
1.4
27
100
7
0.88
27
0.58
1
0.83
21
0.79
13
1.21
30
Robin Lopez
1.2
28
110
30
0.81
6
0.75
17
0.73
9
0.58
1
1.08
27
Anderson Varejao
1.1
29
104
17
0.71
1
0.58
1
0.83
21
0.64
4
0.61
1
Enes Kanter
1.0
30
107
29
0.74
2
0.7
8
0.87
26
0.58
1
0.73
3

As I’ve previously discussed, defensive advanced stats are fraught with problems. Players on good defensive teams have inflated defensive stats and the reverse is true. While Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert are undeniably good defensive players, and are rated accordingly in Defensive Win Share and Defensive Rating, Hibbert is average at best in the individual ratings. Of course, that might be due to his responsibilities he has on the Pacers Defense.

On the other hand, Anderson Varejao is considerd a very good defensive player and does well in the individual stats, but not the team stats, Defensive Win Share and Defensive Rating. This is probably due to the poor defensive players Varejao has been stuck with in Cleveland, though.

With some players, the difference between the difference ratings is interesting. Andrew Bogut has a low Defensive Win Share, but a high Defensive Rating, which is the case with Andre Drummond, as well.

Valanciunasdoesn’t seem to do well in any of these categories, save defending spot up shooters. Kanter doesn’t do well in the ratings, but in the individual stats he excels in everything but defending post ups.

Now for the average rankings for all the stats above:

Player
Rank Avg
Dwight Howard
6.78
Andre Drummond
7.50
Joakim Noah
8.94
Tyson Chandler
9.61
Marc Gasol
9.89
Anderson Varejao
10.06
Larry Sanders
10.44
DeAndre Jordan
11.22
Tiago Splitter
11.72
Kosta Koufos
12.61
Al Horford
13.06
Omer Asik
13.61
JaVale McGee
13.61
Nikola Vucevic
13.72
Emeka Okafor
13.89
Roy Hibbert
14.67
Nikola Pekovic
14.67
Greg Monroe
15.56
Brook Lopez
15.61
Al Jefferson
16.50
Enes Kanter
16.72
Robin Lopez
16.78
DeMarcus Cousins
17.11
Nene
17.50
Andrew Bogut
18.61
Marcin Gortat
19.28
Kendrick Perkins
19.33
Jonas Valanciunas
19.50
Chris Kaman
20.89
Spencer Hawes
20.94

If you’re a Raptor fan, I’ve got one word for you: Ouch!

Of course, as I stated earlier, these stats don’t take into consideration potential, and let’s not pretend the above is the least bit conclusive. Valanciunas improved vastly from the beginning of the season, so his stats from the second half of the season might look very different. Let’s not pretend he still doesn’t have a lot of work to do, though, and he’s probably another year or two from really being an impact player in the league unless he makes a massive leap, which is certainly possible.

For Pistons fans who wonder why they haven’t reached an agreement about an extension with Greg Monroe, where Andre Drummond finishes here might explain a few things. Right now, he’s an advanced stat darling and probably who Joe Dumars is looking at to be the future cornerstone of the franchise.

One interesting tidbit is that Kosta Koufos, who was basically given away by the Denver Nuggets, finishes ahead of JaVale McGee, who he started ahead of all year and who George Karl mostly stapled to the bench. Denver might very well see a dropoff at the center position this year and regret handing McGee the starting position.

1 Marc Gasol
2 Dwight Howard
3 Joakim Noah
4 Al Horford
5 Roy Hibbert
6 Brook Lopez
7 Tyson Chandler
8 Nikola Pekovic
9 Greg Monroe
10 Larry Sanders
11 DeMarcus Cousins
12 Al Jefferson
13 Anderson Varejao
14 Tiago Splitter
15 Andre Drummond
16 Andrew Bogut
17 Omer Asik
18 Nikola Vucevic
19 Enes Kanter
20 Jonas Valanciunas
21 Nene
22 Kosta Koufos
23 Marcin Gortat
24 Robin Lopez
25 Emeka Okafor
26 JaVale McGee
27 DeAndre Jordan
28 Spencer Hawes
29 Kendrick Perkins
30 Chris Kaman

Right off the bat, I have to say that the centre/center position seems to be in better shape than I first thought. That’s not to say we’re in an era similar to what we had in the 90’s, when there were half a dozen Hall of Fame centers, but there look to be some decent players at the position, now. More importantly, there is a lot of youth at the position.

One that is important to note is that injuries have a big impact on these ratings. As I mentioned, Andrew Bynum might be a top ten centre/center, if healthy, but who knows when and if that will ever be. A healthy and motivated Dwight Howard should be the best centre/center in the league, but not the one we saw in Los Angeles.

A healthy Anderson Varejao would rank much higher. The same goes for Andrew Bogut, who has the ability to be the second most important player on the Warriors and be a top ten centre/center when healthy.

While Tiago Splitter finished high in all the stats, I didn’t rank him nearly as high in my final rankings. The two main reasons are that Splitter only finished as high as he did in the stats because of the system he played on and his role, but more importantly, his limitations were exposed in the playoffs when the Spurs had to continue to sit him because his inability to score hurt the Spurs. While a lot of readers took issue with ranking Danny Green as high as I did in the Shooting Guard rankings, he actually averaged MORE minutes in the playoffs than in the regular season, showing his value to the team, whereas Splitter played fewer minutes in the playoffs where his lack of offensive proved too big a weakness.

Lastly, I will admit that I ended up ranking Valanciunas lower than I had anticipated, and that was difficult. As most know, I am a big Valanciunas fan, but at this point in his career, I didn’t think it made sense rank him higher than any of the players above him. I do believe, however, that will change this season.

While a lot of Raptor fans are anxious to see a rivalry between Valanciunas and Drummond, I would add Enes Kanter to that group. Those three big men, all from very different backgrounds, show the NBA isn’t quite ready to give up on the centre/center position just yet. I think we have some very good days ahead of us.