Sure, this isn’t the 1990’s when numerous hall of fame centers were roaming through NBA arenas, but there quite a few half decent or better big men in the NBA circa 2010, but not all of them reach that 7’0 mark. Here are eight seven footers it’s great to have.
Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets, 7’0
Too bad he was on a really crappy team in 2009-2010, but maybe things will be a bit better for the Nets’ 7’0 Center. Lopez had a fantastic second season in the NBA, averaging 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, 9th in the NBA. From the roster right now, it doesn’t seem like the Nets or going to be anywhere near playoff contention in 2010-2011, but they have a very good player in the paint to build around.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors, 7’0
The number one draft pick in the 2006 NBA draft has made a huge leap in his ability the last couple of seasons, finishing 2009-2010 with 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. His defense, which was terrible at first, won’t win him any defensive player of the year awards, but it has vastly improved, with Bargnani blocking 1.4 shots per game last season. Will this progress be halted now that Bosh has left to a warmer climate? Or a shift back to his preferred PF position be good for Toronto (no playoffs last two seasons) and for the Italian himself?
Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks, 7’0
Another big man and no.1 draft pick that shouldn’t have been picked first and took his time before becoming a legitimate offensive threat in the league. Like Bargnani, Bogut had a very good 2009-2010, averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots, second in the NBA, also making the All-NBA third team. The season’s ending was a bit sour with his dislocated elbow injury, not being able to help the Bucks in the playoffs, but is one of the main reasons the Bucks have quite high hopes for next season.
Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers, 7’0
Kaman bounced back from an injury shortened 2008-2009 to have the best season of his career in 2009-2010, averaging 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. If Griffin stays healthy this season and the Clippers add one or two more players strengthen their bench, Kaman could lead these guys into their first playoffs since 2006.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, 7’0
A few years from now, Gasol might be written down in the books at the best European in the history of the NBA. After another terrific playoff performance (19.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks), Gasol has his second NBA ring and helped Kobe to his fourth and fifth. He made his third all-star game last season and his second All-NBA third team. I also think he should have won Finals MVP. Every time the Lakers needed him, defense & offense, he was there with the big move. Oh, and there’s his front line partner –
Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers, 7’0
Like most of the guys on this list, Bynum keeps getting better. The only problem is he can’t seem to stay healthy. In the last three regular seasons he has played a total of 150 games, missing 96. He didn’t miss a game these playoffs, but was limited to only 24.4 minutes a night, averaging 8.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. Still, from a no defense player during his first few season, Bynum has vastly improved in the paint and is more than just a dunk only type of player. When healthy, the Gasol-Bynum duo is the best you have beneath the baskets of this league.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks, 7’0
How many times can I write about this guy? It seems every list we make here, Nowitzki finds his way inside. The greatest Mavs player ever tested free agency for a few days, but it just wouldn’t be right to play for another team it seems, re-signing for the same 20 million dollars he would have made anyway if he didn’t opt out. Nowitzki couldn’t carry Dallas past the Spurs in the 2010 playoffs and it seems that it doesn’t matter how good his numbers are (25 points, 7.7 rebounds, 42.1% from the three, 91.5% from the line), it’ll never be enough for a title.
Yao Ming, Houston Rockets, 7’6
The Rockets are praying they won’t see Yao like this in 2010-2011, after missing the entire 2009-2010 season after the injury he suffered in the 2009 playoffs against the Lakers. The Rockets managed a 42-40 record without him, and right now it looks like Ming (29) is ready to start the season and fight his way back into the playoffs and return to the great form he was in, when healthy. Like Bynum, Ming just can’t seem to stay off the DL for long – He did play 77 games in 2008-2009, but since the 2005-2006, Ming has played only 237 regular season games. A lot of “IF’s” are surrounding his return to the court – If Ming can stay healthy and If Ming can jump right back to his 20-10 ability pretty quickly, it’s going to be a good year for Houston.