S : Best in the game (LeBron)
A+ : Right on heels of best player (Durant)
A : Top 5 player
A- : Top players at their position/Potential All-NBA players
B+ : All-Stars
B : Good starters/fringe All-Stars
B- : Good starter
C+ : decent starter
C : fringe starter/bench player
C- : good bench player
D+ : average bench player
D : Fringe rotation player
D- : bad player
F : not NBA caliber
Factors: production+efficiency+talent (emphasis on this year but whole career taken into account)
*Note: There is no specific order within each tier
I took a break from these rankings to break down Eric Bledsoe's game, but now I'm back to take a look at and grade the final position: centers.
As a reminder, for the purpose of these grades/rankings, I am not looking at last season in a vacuum. I am trying to give an idea of where each of these players stands in regards to each other after last season. One poor season doesn't sink a player's stock if the rest of his career paints a different story, the exact opposite is true as well. However, I am not factoring potential into my rankings, meaning rookies are graded as NBA players and do not garner special consideration because of their youth.
I'm probably making this more complicated and subjective than it needs to be, but I suppose that only makes for more discussion. With that being said, on to the rankings.
Even with a bad back playing in a system that he didn't really fit in, Dwight Howard still put up a big double-double season and led the league in rebounding. Full strength Dwight is an A on this scale as one of the most dominant players in the league.
This is a really solid group of excellent centers. Brook Lopez is the best scorer in this group, but the other five make up for being a lesser scorer by being great defensive players. They all get it done in their own way but they most certainly do get the job done.
In his old age and based on his last couple years with Boston, I've classified Kevin Garnett a center. He'll be moving back to power forward this year in Brooklyn so we'll see how that goes. KG isn't quite what he once was but he's still a solid player that can impact the game on offense, defense and on the glass. DeMarcus Cousins is a tremendous talent but his attitude issues and inefficiency mean I can't put him any higher on this list.
Defensive dynamos, relentless rebounders and prolific post scorers make up this tier of players. None of them are complete centers, but all of them are very talented and are definite starters.
Okafor and Nene are both best at the five, but even playing together they're playing pretty well in Washington. Kanter and Valanciunas are both young players who have flashed their talent in limited roles but are primed for a break-out campaign in 2013-14. Splitter is a player who has been very effective in his limited role in the San Antonio system. JaVale McGee is weird and hard to rank. The physical tools and at times the numbers are unbelievable, but the basketball IQ is unbelievable in a completely different way.
This is where Marcin Gortat belongs at this point. Some continues to say that Gortat is atop 1- center, but I have 17 players ahead of him and another six on the same level. Gortat is a good player and would start for many teams, but overall he's just not that special.
These are solid role players that can start for a team with strong players elsewhere in the line-up, but are likely better coming off the bench.
Back-ups that can step on the floor and hold their own in the paint are valuable for teams, and all of these guys bring one or two skills to the table that makes them effective.
I searched for a picture of former Sun Jermaine O'Neal in our photo editor, but for some reason no pictures of him in a Suns jersey popped up. So instead you get Kaman beard.
Most of these are young players still trying to find their role in the NBA. Oh, and Kendrick Perkins.
All of these guys are marginal NBA players at this point.
These guys aren't really all that good at basketball, but at they do have one thing going for them: they're very tall. Byron Mullens was one made basket away from pulling a Beasley last season (more shot attempts than points). New Sun Miles Plumlee made just five of his 21 shot attempts in only 55 minutes of action.