The Center position is arguably the most historic. The position has changed over time and left a lot of legends in it’s wake, so let’s count down the top 15 Centers of all time!
15. Nate Thurmond
Basketball Hall of Famer, 7x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA All-Defensive First Team, 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team, 1964 NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Built like an ox, Nate Thurmond was an absolute beast in the low block. Despite being much younger than most of the league when he was drafted, he averaged 10.4 rebounds per game against much bigger opposition.
He started his career playing as a backup behind Wilt Chamberlain, but once Wilt was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, he realized his full potential. He became the All-Star starting center that Wilt said he could be. His accomplishments for his career include gathering the most rebounds (18) in a single quarter of a game.
Unfortunately, he could never get the San Francisco Warriors past the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Division playoffs. But he established a name for himself as one of the best passing centers and screen setters in the league for many years.
He averaged 20.5 points and 22 rebounds per game in the 1967-68 season – a feat that was only ever replicated by Wilt Chamberlain. Judging by the way the game is played nowadays, that prestigious group will only feature Nate Thurmond and Wilt.
14. Walt Bellamy
Basketball Hall of Famer, 4x NBA All-Star, 1962 NBA Rookie of the Year
Some rookies enter the league and take the NBA by storm. Despite the obvious jump in talent and competition, there are some rookies who can seemingly meet the challenge head on and take little to no time in getting used to the league.
Walt Bellamy was one of those rookies. Drafted as the NBA first overall draft pick in 1961, Bellamy was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1962 after having one of the greatest rookie seasons in NBA history. He averaged 31.6 points and 19 rebounds per game in his first year.
Unfortunately for Bellamy, he was unluckily playing in the same era as Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. He would continue to rack up great individual statistics, but he would never have a team good enough to challenge the two titans – the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
That said, Bellamy accomplished a rare feat that will might never be replicated again. IN the 1968-1969 season, he was traded from the New York Knicks to the Detroit Pistons. Due to a weird scheduling quirk, he played 88 games that season – 35 for the Knicks, 53 with the Pistons.
13. Dave Cowens
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