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 Best modern-era NBA centers

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despyzer
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PostSubject: Best modern-era NBA centers   Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:57 pm

I had a request to see how all of the best NBA centers rank in all of the different categories. The problem with just ranking them as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd is that if two of then are really close and the other one is quite a bit worse or quite a bit better, the rankings should indicate that. Or what if you were ranking ten individuals and all ten were quite close, should the difference between 1st and last be weighted the same as when 1st and last are disparately different? Therefore, I am going to attempt to create some sort of algorithm that indicates a progression of performance as well as a flat ranking.

There is a great deal of dispute over who is the greatest center, but the most common names in the mix are Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Shaquille O'Neal.


Last edited by despyzer on Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:59 pm

Before we look closer at stats, I would probably rank these centers in this order:
1. Wilt Chamberlain
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar
3. Hakeem Olajuwon
4. Moses Malone
5. Shaquille O'Neal
6. David Robinson
7. Bill Russell

This is a pretty fluid list, and the rankings could shift a spot or more on a daily basis. However, stats were not kept for steals and blocks prior to 1973 and turnovers prior to 1977. We could probably do a pretty good comparison of centers without turnovers and steals, but not without blocks. Therefore we can't really compare the careers of Wilt and Russell to those of the other centers and we're also cutting out a pretty decent chunk of Kareem's pro career, so we will only be able to assess the careers of the four best modern-era centers.
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:20 pm

Moses Malone
Pts/100: 28.8
FG%: .495
FT%: .760
Rbd./100: 17.4
Ast./100: 1.9
Stl./100: 1.2
Blk./100: 1.8
Offense: 114
Defense: 104
PER: 22.0
True%: .569
WS/48: .174
VOR: 46.7

Hakeem Olajuwon
Pts/100: 30.3
FG%: .512
FT%: .712
Rbd./100: 15.5
Ast./100: 3.4
Stl./100: 2.4
Blk./100: 4.3
Offense: 108
Defense: 98
PER: 23.6
True%: .553
WS/48: .177
VOR: 77.1

David Robinson
Pts/100: 31.3
FG%: .518
FT%: .736
Rbd./100: 15.8
Ast./100: 3.7
Stl./100: 2.1
Blk./100: 4.4
Offense: 116
Defense: 96
PER: 26.2
True%: .583
WS/48: .250
VOR: 80.9

Shaquille O'Neal
Pts/100: 35.2
FG%: .582
FT%: .527
Rbd./100: 16.1
Ast./100: 3.7
Stl./100: 0.9
Blk./100: 3.4
Offense: 113
Defense: 101
PER: 26.4
True%: .586
WS/48: .208
VOR: 74.0
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:04 pm

For point of comparison, I am choosing this year's Brook Lopez, who was deemed to be the 10th best center in the NBA this year.

Pts/100: 30.5
FG%: .513
FT%: .814
Rbd./100: 13.2
Ast./100: 1.2
Stl./100: 1.1
Blk./100: 3.1
Offense: 111
Defense: 108
PER: 22.7
True%: .558
WS/48: .159
VOR: 1.1

These are his 2014-15 stats, not his career averages.
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:56 pm

Pts/100: (points awarded)
1. O'Neal 35.2 (10)
2. Robinson 31.3 (4)
3. Olajuwon 30.3 (2)
4. Malone 28.8 (0)
Lopez 30.5

FG%
1. O'Neal .582 (9)
2. Robinson .518 (3)
3. Olajuwon .512 (2)
4. Malone .495 (0)
Lopez .513

FT%
1. Malone .760 (8 )
2. Robinson .736 (7)
3. Olajuwon .712 (6)
4. O'Neal .527 (0)
Lopez .814

Rbd./100
1. Malone 17.4 (10)
2. O'Neal 16.1 (7)
3. Robinson 15.8 (6)
4. Olajuwon 15.3 (5)
Lopez 13.2

Ast./100
1t. Robinson and O'Neal 3.7 (10)
3. Olajuwon 3.4 (9)
4. Malone 1.9 (3)
Lopez 1.2

Stl./100
1. Olajuwon 2.4 (10)
2. Robinson 2.1 (8 )
3. Malone 1.2 (2)
4. O'Neal 0.9 (0)
Lopez 1.1

Blk./100
1. Robinson 4.4 (10)
2. Olajuwon 4.3 (9)
3. O'Neal 3.4 (6)
4. Malone 1.8 (0)
Lopez 3.1

Offense
1. Robinson 116 (10)
2. Malone 114 (7)
3. O'Neal 113 (6)
4. Olajuwon 108 (0)
Lopez 111

Defense
1. Robinson 96 (10)
2. Olajuwon 98 (8 )
3. O'Neal 101 (6)
4. Malone 104 (3)
Lopez 108

PER
1. O'Neal 26.4 (10)
2. Robinson 26.2 (9)
3. Olajuwon 23.6 (4)
4. Malone 22.0 (0)
Lopez 22.7
*Did Lopez really have a more efficient season than Malone averaged for his career?

True%
1. O'Neal .586 (10)
2. Robinson .583 (9)
3. Malone .569 (3)
4. Olajuwon .553 (0)
Lopez .558

WS/48
1. Robinson .250 (10)
2. O'Neal .208 (5)
3. Olajuwon .177 (3)
4. Malone .174 (2)
Lopez .159

VOR
1. Robinson 80.9 (10)
2. Olajuwon 77.1 (9)
3. O'Neal 74.0 (8 )
4. Malone 46.7 (4)
Lopez 19* *if averaged out over a longer career
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:02 pm

Obviously this is a pretty unscientific comparison, but it is a starting point.

Robinson 106
O'Neal 88
Olajuwon 67
Malone 42
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:53 am

Let's try again, but with a different base point. This time we'll use my old favorite Tree Rollins.

Pts/100: (points awarded)
1. O'Neal 35.2 (10)
2. Robinson 31.3 (8.5)
3. Olajuwon 30.3 (8 )
4. Malone 28.8 (7)
Rollins 12.7

FG% (de-emphasized for redundancy)
1. O'Neal .582 (5)
2. Robinson .518 (1.5)
3. Olajuwon .512 (1)
4. Malone .495 (0)
Rollins .522

FT% (de-emphasized for importance and redundancy)
1. Malone .760 (3.5)
2. Robinson .736 (3)
3. Olajuwon .712 (2.5)
4. O'Neal .527 (0)
Rollins .700

Rbd./100
1. Malone 17.4 (10)
2. O'Neal 16.1 (6.5)
3. Robinson 15.8 (5.5)
4. Olajuwon 15.3 (4)
Rollins 13.7

Ast./100 (de-emphasized for importance)
1t. Robinson and O'Neal 3.7 (5)
3. Olajuwon 3.4 (4.5)
4. Malone 1.9 (1)
Rollins 1.3

Stl./100
1. Olajuwon 2.4 (10)
2. Robinson 2.1 (8 )
3. Malone 1.2 (1.5)
4. O'Neal 0.9 (0)
Rollins 1.0

Blk./100
1. Robinson 4.4 (7.5)
2. Olajuwon 4.3 (7.5)
3. O'Neal 3.4 (4.5)
4. Malone 1.8 (0)
Rollins 5.2

Offense
1. Robinson 116 (10)
2. Malone 114 (7.5)
3. O'Neal 113 (6)
4. Olajuwon 108 (0)
Rollins 110

Defense
1. Robinson 96 (10)
2. Olajuwon 98 (7.5)
3. O'Neal 101 (4)
4. Malone 104 (0)
Rollins 100

PER
1. O'Neal 26.4 (10)
2. Robinson 26.2 (9.5)
3. Olajuwon 23.6 (8 )
4. Malone 22.0 (6.5)
Rollins 13.6

True% (de-emphasized for redundancy)
1. O'Neal .586 (5)
2. Robinson .583 (4.5)
3. Malone .569 (2.5)
4. Olajuwon .553 (0)
Rollins .555

WS/48
1. Robinson .250 (10)
2. O'Neal .208 (6,5)
3. Olajuwon .177 (4)
4. Malone .174 (4)
Rollins .128

VOR
1. Robinson 80.9 (10)
2. Olajuwon 77.1 (9.5)
3. O'Neal 74.0 (9)
4. Malone 46.7 (4)
Rollins 24.3
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:04 am

Because FG% and FT% both go into the equation for True% (along with 3pt.%), I de-emphasized their individual values (FG% by 1/3 and the other two by 1.2). Overall shooting percentage still has more weight than any other stat, even after this de-emphasis. I also de-emphasized assists because high average of assists from a center is not an expectation; it's just gravy.

Robinson 73
O'Neal 71.5
Olajuwon 66.5
Malone 47.5

I think this is a bit more scientific, but it also shows that the baseline slightly affects the overall totals. Shaq looks quite a bit better, but he still doesn't surpass Robinson here. Malone draws a bit closer to the pack, but still falls far short. I think it's safe to say that regardless of the baseline, this order will remain the same in almost all the outcomes.
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PostSubject: Re: Best modern-era NBA centers   Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:33 pm

I just noticed that I didn't include +/-, but seeing David Robinson has the 4th best career +/- of all-time, it's not going to knock him from his perch. It would probably help Olajuwon's case some (11th best), but not enough to move him past Shaq.
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