Although today’s game is mainly a guard driven league, there are still some great forwards and centers in the game today. Players like Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Miles Turner, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, dominate the NBA each night.
However, most of these bigs are power forwards who sometimes play center. When it comes to the center position it is a small list of top players like Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. This list also includes DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, the two centers considered to be the best in the league.
Many people view Cousins as the best center in the league because of his incredible talent. He can post up, shoot the three and the midrange shot, and he handles the ball like a guard. Cousins stands at 6’11 with a frame of 270 pounds of pure strength. Cousins can bring the ball down the court, crossover and step-back on any big in the league. That is amazing and something the league has never seen before. Cousins’ averages of 29.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.5 assist this season are astonishing.
Nonetheless, with all that amazing offensive talent, his lack of production at the defensive end and anger problems make some believe he has prevented himself from being a great leader and the best center in the league. Although Cousins has picked up his defensive play this year, averaging 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game, he is still not the defensive anchor that Gasol is.
Gasol averages 1.6 blocks and 1 steal per game. These numbers are almost similar to Cousins’, but his defensive win shares and defensive plus/minus are both better than Cousins. Gasol has a defensive win share of 2 and a plus minus of 3 while Cousins has 1.6 and 1.8. Considering those numbers and that Gasol is a former defensive player of the year, he gets a slight notch over Cousins defensively.
Gasol’s offensive numbers are not mind boggling like Cousins’. He is averaging 20.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists. They are both shooting 45% from the field, but Gasol has Cousins beat in both free throw and three-point percentage, 82% to 77% and 42% to 38%. Gasol is having a career year from three, in fact he has come through in the clutch multiple times this year from behind the arc.
Cousins has been in the top 5 in technical fouls every year since 2013. He can easily get you 30 and 10, but he can easily get two quick techs, get thrown out of a game thus hurting your chances to win. This is the biggest problem with Cousins to be a leader. Players aren’t going to follow someone who they can’t trust will play the entire game.
🔴 DeMarcus Cousins was ejected.
And then he wasn’t. pic.twitter.com/yRcsw80SIk
— ESPN (@NBA_FormulaOne) December 22, 2016
Both Cousins and Gasol are very great centers that can do it all. They can both post up and use their finesse or strength to score, as well as holding the ability to step out and shoot the three. However, one can win games and another can win and lose teams games.
The better center is obvious. Gasol is the league’s best.