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In the final edition of Fastbreak on FanNation’s Top-10 Positional Rankings for the 2022-23 NBA season, we will be taking a look at the top centers in the league.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the NBA was dominated by the big man, but as times changed, teams did not utilize their centers the same way anymore with guards beginning to take over. Now though, we are seeing centers being utilized in many different ways, especially since many bigs are starting to extend their game to the perimeter.

We have now seen a center win the league’s MVP award in back-to-back seasons and the top two names on this list will once again finish inside the Top-5 of MVP voting for the third consecutive season, assuming they stay healthy.

Having a player in the frontcourt who can score in the paint or on the perimeter, as well as be a factor defensively, is extremely valuable and some of the best teams in the league are getting this kind of production from their centers.

Let’s take a look at the final installment of our Top-10 Positional Rankings for the 2022-23 NBA season by breaking down the Top-10 center in the NBA:

No. 10: Robert Williams III - Boston Celtics


The improvements Robert Williams III made from his third season in the league to his fourth season last year was remarkable, especially on the defensive-end of the floor. Williams recorded a career-high 2.2 blocks per game last season and he nearly averaged a double-double with 10.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He ended up finishing 15th in the league in rebounds per game, second in blocks per game and first in defensive rating.

One of the best shot-blockers in the entire league, Robert Williams is set to miss the start of the 2022-23 season after undergoing left knee surgery at the end of September. The Boston Celtics are hopeful that their young center will be ready to go sometime in December. In order to make another Finals run, the Celtics are going to need Williams healthy and making a big impact defensively once again.

No. 9: Jonas Valanciunas - New Orleans Pelicans


Jonas Valanciunas is a very overlooked player in the NBA likely due to the fact that he is not the most athletic nor the most flashy center. However, Valanciunas is a double-double threat each and every night, as he ranked third in the league in double-doubles (50) a season ago trailing just Nikola Jokic (66) and Rudy Gobert (53).

In 74 total games with the New Orleans Pelicans, Valanciunas averaged 17.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and shot 54.4 percent from the floor, 36.1 percent from three-point range. With Zion Williamson returning for New Orleans, Valanciunas’ overall production and opportunities will decline slightly, but he is still one of the best rebounders in this entire league and he makes the Pelicans a strong team on the interior.

No. 8: Domantas Sabonis - Sacramento Kings


Traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Sacramento Kings last season, All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis is getting ready to begin his first full season with Sacramento. For years now, Sabonis has been doing everything for his team and since coming to the Kings, he has continued to be a triple-double-like threat in the frontcourt.

Domantas Sabonis averaged 18.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor in 15 games with the Kings last season. Sacramento is hopeful that he will continue to put up All-Star-like numbers and should he be able to continue finding success as a “do-it-all” type of player at the center position, the Kings have a chance to end their 16-year playoff drought.

No. 7: Jarrett Allen - Cleveland Cavaliers


Everyone knew that Jarrett Allen was a good player at the center position when the Brooklyn Nets traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2021, but Allen really took a massive step forward in his career last season. The 24-year-old center averaged career-highs in points (16.1) and rebounds (10.8) while also averaging 1.3 blocks per game and shooting a career-high 67.7 percent from the floor. As a result, he earned All-Star honors for the first time in his career.

A lob-threat in every pick-and-roll the Cavaliers run, Allen’s production has increased with Evan Mobley being by his side at the power forward position and Jarrett Allen is only going to get better with the arrival of All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. The Cavs have a young, hungry team and Allen’s contributions as a lob-threat on one end and a shot-blocker at the other have helped make them extremely balanced.

No. 6: Rudy Gobert - Minnesota Timberwolves


Rudy Gobert being dealt from the Utah Jazz to the Minnesota Timberwolves has been one of the key storylines of the NBA offseason. Now next to Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt, the Timberwolves have an elite-level frontcourt that teams are really going to struggle to defend. Gobert’s struggles on the offensive-end of the floor have been well-documented, but he is more than capable of finishing in the paint and at the rim, which are the only two things the Timberwolves will need from him.

Still one of the best shot-blockers in the league, Gobert has averaged at least 2.0 blocks per game in each of the last eight seasons and he is coming off a 2021-22 season in which he led the league in both rebounds per game (14.7) and field goal percent (71.3 percent). Being mentally fresh with his new team and eager to begin the new season, we could very well see Gobert’s best season in the NBA yet in Minnesota.

No. 5 Karl-Anthony Towns - Minnesota Timberwolves


Speaking of Karl-Anthony Towns, he will transition over to playing the power forward position with the arrival of Rudy Gobert, but we are still going to list him as a center because that is what he has always been throughout his first seven seasons in the NBA. Towns is an elite-level big man simply because of the impact he has on the offensive-end of the floor.

Not many players that are 6-foot-11 like Towns are able to handle the ball on the perimeter and make plays for themselves, but that is exactly what the former No. 1 overall pick does. Shooting-wise, Karl-Anthony Towns has shot at least 40.0 percent from three-point range in four of the last five seasons and he recently won the three-point shooting contest during All-Star Weekend this past year.

One of the better offensive talents in the league, Towns will once again be a key focal point for the Minnesota Timberwolves, especially if they are to live up to the expectations placed on them and contend for a Top-4-seed in the Western Conference.

No. 4: Deandre Ayton - Phoenix Suns

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A lot of drama surrounded the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton this offseason and while he is ultimately still in Phoenix, there was a time that it appeared as if the Suns were going to let him go. Not only did they dangle Ayton in trade negotiations for Kevin Durant after he requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, but the former No. 1 overall pick also signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers before the Suns matched the Pacers offer.

Back with the Suns now, nobody really knows if Deandre Ayton actually wants to be in Phoenix anymore and this will be a key talking point all year long. However, this should not take away from what kind of player Ayton is, as he has truly turned himself into an elite-level big man that can score at the rim, pick a major threat in pick-and-roll situations and possibly lead the league in rebounding one day.

Ayton was one of the main reasons why the Suns made the NBA Finals in 2021 and there is no doubt that he can once again be a key part of their success this upcoming season. Whether or not he remains in Phoenix long-term though is yet to be seen.

No. 3: Bam Adebayo - Miami Heat


While he tends to play in the low-post with his back to the basket, Bam Adebayo is not really a traditional big man. What makes Adebayo such a unique talent is the fact that he can defend any position due to his length and athleticism, plus he is a very confident ball-handler and playmaker, something many teams do not see from their center.

Last season, Adebayo missed a chunk of time due to a thumb injury, but he still ended up playing in 56 games and he averaged a career-high 19.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor. Finishing fourth in votes for Defensive Player of the Year, Bam Adebayo has a chip on his shoulder entering the new season and will be looking to prove that he deserves recognition.

No. 2: Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers


In back-to-back seasons now, Joel Embiid has finished as the runner-up in the MVP voting. Entering the new season, Embiid is once again a favorite to win the MVP award and should he stay healthy, he has a very good chance to do so. Given his size and strength, there really is no player in the league who can guard the Philadelphia 76ers big man right now and that was very apparent when he ended up capturing the scoring title last season.

In 68 total games during the 2021-22 season, Embiid averaged 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks while shooting 49.9 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from three-point range. Very few players in the league are able to put up such numbers and Joel Embiid is doing so as a 7-foot, 280 lbs center.

The only thing holding Embiid back right now is his health, but should he remain healthy, he has a very good chance at finally winning the MVP award. Not to mention, the 76ers have a very good chance at winning the Eastern Conference and advancing to the NBA Finals if Joel Embiid can remain on the floor.

No. 1: Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets

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One could easily make a case for Joel Embiid to be the best center in the NBA, but how could we not rank Nikola Jokic first after winning the MVP award in back-to-back years? At 27-years-old, Jokic is already one of the best centers in NBA history and he is just now reaching the peak of his career.

Without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. last season, Nikola Jokic recorded new career-highs in points (27.1), rebounds (13.8), steals (1.5) and field goal percentage (58.3 percent). Jokic also finished with 66 double-doubles and 19 triple-doubles in 74 games, both of which led the league.

The things Jokic can do on the floor at his size truly is remarkable and his passing abilities are as good as any guard’s in the league. Finally having their whole roster healthy and ready to play, this could finally be the season that the Denver Nuggets break through and possibly lead the league in wins during the regular season.

There is nothing that Nikola Jokic cannot do on a basketball court and nobody should be shocked to see him improve on his numbers yet again! Jokic is a very special player and he may very well just be getting started in terms of what he can accomplish over the course of his career.