Saturday , Dec , 22 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Dwight Howard, Chris Kaman, & Andrew Bynum: Bringing True Centers Back

Greenpeace can officially take ‘center’ off their list of endangered species. After all, back-to the-basket bigs had become so rare the environmental organization considered picketing NBA arenas and throwing dye at Commissioner Stern during press conferences …

Greenpeace can officially take ‘center’ off their list of endangered species. After all, back-to the-basket bigs had become so rare the environmental organization considered picketing NBA arenas and throwing dye at Commissioner Stern during press conferences.

Remember, the nineteen-nineties featured several spectacular fives-Patrick Ewing breathed life into Madison Square Garden, Hakeem Olajuwon held down Houston, and David Robinson turned San Antonio into a model franchise.

Shaquille O’Neal also dominated the end of this era and broke through post-millennium, winning three straight NBA Titles in Los Angeles. But by 2002, Ewing, Olajuwon, and Robinson had all retired, leaving O’Neal and Yao Ming to soldier on as the last of the ‘legit’ centers.

Most modern fives treat the paint like a club groupie the morning after an evening rendezvous. They’ll venture in for a little instant gratification, but, on most occasions, prefer the relative safety of the perimeter or their wife.  

Purists are sickened by these developments (I’m referring to style of play, not lifestyle choices). They consider seven-footers near the three-point line to be blasphemy and long for traditional posts who play the block.

But the era of soft ‘bigs’ is over. This season, three paint-over-perimeter centers have emerged to replace O’Neal.

1) Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic, Current Superstar.

True Center Skills: Howard has freakish athleticism. He dominates the glass, swats shots out of Amway Arena and into Disney World, and keeps improving his offensive skill-set.

After three promising seasons, Howard has stepped-up in 2007-08, averaging 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Many see the man with the pearly-white smile as an evolved Shaquille O’Neal. Time will tell, but the future is bright in Orlando.

2) Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers, Current Star.

True Center Skills: Kaman’s old ‘Def Leppard’ locks were a throwback to eighties trailer-trash -no offense to anyone rocking Wonder Bread, Kraft Dinner, Miller Lite, and Pour Some Sugar on Me.

With Elton Brand nursing an Achilles injury, Kaman shaved his quasi-mullet and has quickly emerged as an All-Star. This year, he’s stuffing stat-sheets, averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Best of all, his points come down-low, where Kaman seems unstoppable going left.  

3) Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers, Emerging Star.

True Center Sills: Bynum is the youngest/rawest of this trio, having played organized basketball for just five years. Still, the New Jersey-native possesses tremendous upside and has taken a major step this season.

Bynum’s length, size, soft hands, touch, and developing IQ should kill those Jason Kidd trade rumors. Best of all-unlike most young players-Bynum refused to pout after the infamous Kobe Bryant cell phone tape. No histrionics. No trade request. No beef with Mamba. He kept his mouth shut and just improved.

What do you think of Howard, Kaman, and Bynum? Get at us in the comment box below or hit us up in .

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