In this week’s installation of the Hoops Barometer, we’ll take a look at the center position. This is an overview of what has taken place in 2014 so far, and what to make of it in the future. We’ll look at two who have disappointed, and two who have been great. Maybe you need to Gasolve your problems.
When I think of the center position it conjures up pictures of giant titans swooping up rebounds, scoring points with ease, and launching opponent’s shots into the stands. I think of guys like Shaquille O’Neal posting up and tossing smaller guys out of his way. Today’s center climate has changed a lot. Paving the way were hybrid players that could be physical like Shaq, but also had amazing mid-range games. Guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, and even more currently the immortal Tim Duncan. Now days we are seeing more and more centers that can shoot a jump shot, and they are rocking the top of our rankings boards. But first, let’s start with two guys many hoped would carry them to the promised land only to fall flat on their awkward goofy jump shots.
Dwight Howard – This guy had the potential to be one of those old school dominant power centers. His blocks and rebounds have always been good in the past. And he had some good moves down low although he is more of an athletic freak then a guy that pushes people out of his way. His downfall (like Shaq) was his horrid free throw percentage. But this year it’s been more than that. He is down in almost all his relevant categories, missed a bunch of games already, and now suffered another injury keeping him out 6-8 more weeks. Stick a fork in him helping you this year. Even in the games he played he was averaging 16.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 58 percent from the field. Those statistics are okay but just not good enough for a star, especially when he’s wrecking your free throw percentage by only making 53 percent of them. Gone are the days of 14 rebounds and 20 points per game. Dwight isn’t like one of those more finesse centers that can be successful longer due to their skill, I don’t see this changing much even though he’s only 29 years old. He relies too much on athleticism and that doesn’t last forever. I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole and his value is probably too low to trade anymore as well.
Joakim Noah – Noah making this list is probably partially due to a certain someone on the success list below, but even so he’s still getting thirty plus minutes per game so his numbers shouldn’t be this bad. Last year he was an all around dream, especially awesome because he was dishing out 5.4 assists per game from the center position. He had career highs in points, rebounds and assists. But this year, maybe in part due to him working together with Gasol he bulled his way to the bottom. He is averaging a horrible 7.7 points to go with 1.3 blocks, .7 steals, 9.7 rebounds, and 44 percent shooting (his lowest field goal percentage in his entire career). He’s always been a high energy, high hustle type of player. But like Dwight, since he is now 29, I’d stay away from Noah, he won’t get back to his awesome all around production. If you can trade him for anything of value to someone that remembers his glory last year I wouldn’t hesitate.
On the good side of the position there have been some great surprises as well as some solid players you expected would be good. DeAndre Jordan has really come into his own for teams that can deal with his free throw percentage. He’s the new Dwight Howard. DeMarcus Cousins has been a beast as well. But in this article I’d like to focus on the brothers Gasol. Both of these guys are putting up numbers and if you have either of them you are pretty happy at what you are getting from your starter. First, lets look at younger brother Marc.
Marc Gasol – Mark is having a fine year. He has hit a career high in points per game and is near the top in all of his other relevant statistics. The thing so great about the Gasol’s is their consistency across all categories. Marc is shooting 49 percent from the field, 82 percent from the free throw line, while getting 8.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, .9 steals, 1.7 blocks, and 18.3 points per game. Nothing bad, everything good. Although he hasn’t consistently done it from a points per game perspective I think he is finally breaking out the way he should have before. If you need some consistency with potentially a discount from a not as big name price, you might be able to get Marc for less than he’s worth. I wouldn’t hesitate trying to pick this guy up for your run, or for even cheaper maybe the old Gasol below.
Pau Gasol – Lost in the bright lights of LA, and in the shadow of the leagues brightest star this past decade Kobe Bryant, Pau has quietly put up good numbers throughout his career. He has a great touch, and an under rated scoring ability. Some worried what it would be like for Gasol going to Chicago. Well, put your worries aside, Pau is owning Chi Town. Think Carmelo is regretting his decision not to go there now? Well, besides the money I’d say yeah, he most definitely should be. But back to Pau. He is averaging 18.4 points, an awesome 2.1 blocks, 2.9 assists, and a career high 12.1 rebounds per game. He also helps your percentages by making 49 percent of his shots from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line. Like his brother above, he has no weaknesses. Due to his age (being 34 years old), I’d expect you might be able to get a deal for this guy from someone who is out of playoff contention in your league. If that’s the case I would pounce immediately. I’d also expect Pau to be a good bargain for the next season or two as well, his game is mostly dependent on his skills which makes him a good candidate to produce for the next few seasons. So if you are having trouble at center maybe you can Gasolve your issues by making a deal. I would.