It’s been a while since BIG men were truly relevant in the NBA. We aren’t talking players who are tall, but more-so players who have defined their careers by playing predominantly in the paint. Even the NBA itself has brushed aside the pivot position as the NBA All-Star Game ballot now lumps centers in with the power and small forwards. Not since the late 80s/early 90s has the NBA had a plethora of great centers. Names such as Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal were just as much household names as the rest of the players on the floor. Even to a lesser extent, the second tier of popular big men such as Vlade Divac and Rik Smits had a huge role and impact on their team and the result of the game on at least one end of the floor.

Over the past decade we have seen a number of players enter the league as the “next great big man,” but fail to reach lofty expectations for one reason or another. Eddy Curry, Greg Oden, Kwame Brown Andrea Bargnani and Andrew Bynum are a few who fell short of carrying the torch. While the aforementioned names did not have as much success as hoped, there are some players who have proved to be serviceable to their teams, sometimes in ways that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheets. The current crop of potential “star” NBA big men seem to have taken a page out of Kevin Garnett’s book, a player who insisted on being listed as 6’12”, not seven feet and one who could handle the ball, attack from the perimeter and shoot with distance. Instead of being traditional play in the paint big men, players have started to adapt to the run and gun pace and space structure of the game.

The one issue with ranking the top big men in the game is how they are truly defined, a la the Tim Duncan rule. Was he a power forward or a center? What position do players such as Pau Gasol, Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid and DeMarcus Cousins slot into? For sake of reference, this list is a collaboration between depth chart listings found on ESPN, Real GM and Rotoworld.

30. Omer Asik

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 4.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 bpg

It was only a short time ago when Omer Asik was a valuable commodity in the NBA after a breakout 2012-13 season with the Houston Rockets. Two years later, the Pelicans thought enough of the Turkish big man that they signed him to a 5 year, $58 million contract. While only 4 years, $43 million of the contact is guaranteed, it still means that the Pelicans are paying $11 million for 4 points  and 6 rebounds per game from their center. Considering the change in play style of the NBA game, a player with limited athleticism, foot speed and mobility, along with declining stat and playing time, doesn’t provide much value. The cupboard of options for starting centers is scarce in New Orleans as the team would have to slide either Anthony Davis or Terrence Jones over from the power forward spot, neither of which are reasonable options for various reasons.

29. Roy Hibbert

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 5.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.4 bpg

Some thought that Roy Hibbert signing with the Lakers last year was a decent move. A big man looking for a chance to remake himself and return to being one of the better post players in the game. However, Hibbert failed to return to the level of play that made him an All-Star just a couple of years prior. Although he started and played in all but one game last year, Hibbert proved to be nearly useless. Never the most athletic or quickest of big men, Hibbert used his body and limited skill set to the best of his ability on both ends of the court, becoming an asset on the defensive side of the court, though those days seem gone. The Hornets won’t be looking to Hibbert to contribute much on the scoreboard, but they hope that he will be able to team up with Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Kemba Walker to make the Hornets among the top defensive teams in the league this season.

28. Timofey Mozgov

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.8 bpg

How doe these single stat numbers and the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers thought so much of the big man that they sat him on the bench for a good chunk of their championship run scream four years and $64 million? Is the seventh year big man serviceable? Yes, but if the Lakers are looking to use Coach Luke Walton’s uptempo offense with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, what good does the plodding big man provide? Fans of the Purple and Gold are still shaking their heads wondering about the Lakers front office thought process here. Do they know something about Mozgov that the rest of the basketball world doesn’t? He’s not known as an offensive threat, never scoring double digits, nor as a presence on the glass, posting a career high 7.3 rpg during the 2014-15 season. Honestly, the Lakers may have been better off paying Kobe Bryant for another season and sticking his broken body in the paint. At least he would sell tickets.

27. Alex Len

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 9.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 bpg

The Suns have the ability to put out an explosive and athletic lineup this season, but their lack of experience will probably hurt them more than help them. While they do have veteran big man Tyson Chandler available to start in the paint, it could be worth their while to let the kids try to figure it out together. While Alex Len has the ability to put the ball in the basket, his career 45% mark from the field doesn’t scream “give me touches.” Len is in a contract year which for the most part tends to lead to big seasons for those who want to make sure they remain in the league next season. The Suns spent two draft picks on big men last summer with Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. It may take those two a bit of time to figure out the NBA game, but if Len isn’t careful, he could be finding himself in a different jersey next season.

26. Mason Plumlee

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 9.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.0 bpg)

In his first year in Portland, Mason Plumlee started all 82 regular season games and each of their 11 playoff games. While he isn’t a huge threat with the ball, Plumlee provides Portland with an athletic inside option who reacts well with the screen offence options and finishes aggressively. With nearly three assists a night, Plumlee has the ability to help the Blazers outside game by facilitating from the paint. Portland has some depth in the paint with Festus Ezeli, Meyers Leonard and Ed Davis as alternatives, but the job appears to be Plumlee’s to lose. When you consider what they have in the cupboard, Plumlee is the Blazers best option offensively despite his limitations.

25. Joel Embiid

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After a few years of waiting, Joel Embiid will finally set foot on a NBA court as a rookie. Drafted in 2014, Embiid has had a lengthy history of injury that left people scratching their heads and the Sixers drafting two more big men in the following seasons. There really isn’t much to judge Embiid’s game on other than his summer league appearances, which were positive and could project to a double double season if given the right amount of playing time. However, the Sixers brass have already announced that they are going to take it slow with the big man as they also try to figure out how to juggle playing time and offensive strategy with Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. His ranking at #25 is tentative and he could easily find himself towards the top of this list by the end of the year.

24. Joakim Noah

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 4.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 bpg

Joakim Noah has never been known as an offensive threat, but in the last two years he has seen a steady decline in his scoring numbers and shooting percentages. Moving on from Chicago to NY City with his ride or die point guard Derrick Rose, the Knicks don’t necessarily need a huge amount of buckets from their big man. With Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis leading the team offensively, Noah just needs to be a potential threat in the paint in order to open up the perimeter scoring for his teammates. Noah hasn’t exactly been an ironman during his career, playing in only 80 games twice in his nine seasons and managing only 96 of a possible 164 in the last two years. If this experiment in New York is going to work, health is key for not only Noah, but the rest of the often injured lineup.

23. Zaza Pachulia

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 8.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.3 bpg

Deciding on battling with the rebuilding Mavs with hopes of a low playoff seed in the West or joining the Big four in Golden State for what could be a history in the making journey must’ve been a tough decision for Zaza Pachulia this summer. Offensively, Pachulia is probably on par with the former Warrior big man, Andrew Bogust, but defensively he is a notch lower on the ladder. It doesn’t matter, as the Warriors don’t have to worry too much about defense. They’ll look to let the opponent miss, grab the boards, outlet to Curry, Thompson, Durant or Green and watch the fun. Pachulia makes up a quartet of big men who have a limited role within the offense other than to set screens and drop in whatever shots happen to miss, which, with the Warriors roster, doesn’t appear to be many.

22. Andrew Bogut

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 5.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.6 bpg

Andrew Bogut now has the honor of answering the question as to whether it is better to play a small role on a championship level squad or a bigger role on a team battling just to get into the playoffs. Chances are a player like Bogut would be more than content to have stayed in Golden State this season, but such is the world of professional sports. If the Aussie big man can remain healthy, an increase in minutes is inevitable as the Mavericks don’t really have any depth at the center position. The only problem with that is that Bogut has never been known for being an picture of health, playing a full 82 game slate only once in his career and that was eleven years ago during his rookie season. Bogut has the ability to put the ball in the basket, as shown during his time in Milwaukee, but during his time with the Warriors he was the fifth option of the starting five. Dallas will be hoping that their new big man will be able to turn back the clock if they have any hopes of a playoff spot.

21. Robin Lopez

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 10.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.6 bpg

The Bulls lost one grind it out big man and replaced him with another, as Robin Lopez takes over for Joakim Noah this year. Surrounded by Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, Lopez should see a spike in his stats this season collecting rebounds off of the Bulls missed shot attempts. The less talented of the Lopez twins, Robin has never really been an offensive force for any of the four teams he was part of prior to arriving in the Windy City. Butler and Wade will carry the Bulls offensive load, so Lopez just needs to do the dirty work of setting screens, rotating the ball and securing second chance opportunities. Defensively Lopez will remind fans of the work that Noah put in as both are blue collar players, getting after the loose balls, helping on defensive assignments and laying a body on the opposition.

20. Clint Capela

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 7.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.6 apg, 1.2 bpg

The Rockets have moved on from the Dwight Howard experiment, which was slightly more successful than his time with the LA Lakers, but far from anything worth getting excited about. Enter D12 2.0. Offensively, his skill set is pretty limited as Capela made most of his points from transitions and put backs. Seeing just a shade under 20 minutes of playing time last season, Capela’s numbers weren’t that bad, so with increased floor time, he should a bump in his points and rebounds. The question now is are the Rockets in an addition by subtraction situation with Howard moving on and trusting Capela with more responsibilities to provide points in the paint and also to make up for James Harden’s lack of defense?

19. Greg Monroe

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 15.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.8 bpg

The Bucks have one of the more unpredictable teams in the league this season. Judging by the way they have built their lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Greek Freak somehow make his way into the center spot (just kidding). Monroe started all but 15 games for the Bucks last season, but there were times in which the team was better off with him coming off the bench than they were with him as part of the starting five. Coach Jason Kidd has gone on record starting that he plans to experiment and tinker with the lineup this season. However, it is hard to believe that the Bucks would sign Monroe to a big contract last year and have him play with the second unit. It’s also hard to believe that the team is better off with Miles Plumlee as their starting big man, but apparently the Bucks management feels otherwise.

18. Nikola Vucevic

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 18.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.1 bpg

Entering his sixth season with the Magic, Nikola Vucevic has proven to be a valuable asset in what seems to be a constant rebuild of the franchise. Since coming over to Orlando from the 76ers in the big four team mega deal in 2012 to replace Dwight Howard, Vucevic has seen his stock as a big man in the NBA increase each season. Close to averaging a double double on his career, the one knock against the former USC Trojan is his ability to remain healthy as he has missed fifty games over the past three seasons. Last season was the first since his rookie year that Vucevic did not average double digits in boards and with the questionable buildup of the Magic this season, one has to wonder if he will be able to get that number back on track.

17. Marcin Gortat

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 13.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.3 bpg)

One of the more underrated big men in the league, Marcin Gortat doesn’t provide the Wizards with anything special, but puts his hardhat on and goes to work each night. Missing only a handful of games during his time with the Wizards, The Polish Hammer is a near double trouble asset each night. In his three years in Washington, the Wizards missed the playoffs only once and now with new coach Scott Brooks on board, there are some that think that this is the year that the team has the pieces to once again battle for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference. With his ability to attack the hoop off a dribble or hit the elbow jumper, Gortat’s work with guards’ John Wall and Bradley Beal should result not only in more Ws for the Wizards, but also an increase in the big man’s nightly numbers.

16. Myles Turner

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 10.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.4 bpg

Sure these numbers won’t blow you out of the water, but consider that Myles Turner averaged only 22.8 minutes per game as a rookie and an increase in floor time during his sophomore year will only result in a substantial increase in his stats. When you consider the tools that Turner has to offer, size, length, post game, free throws, three point range, rebounds and blocked shots, the ceiling for the former Texas Longhorn is quite high (and not just because he is 6’11”). With the addition of Jeff Teague, look for the Pacers to execute even more pick option plays with Turner on the offensive end. Defensively, Turner’s ability to cover ground in the paint is a huge asset to the Pacers team defense. Don’t be surprised to see at least four or five more points and rebounds added to his average stat line by the end of his sophomore season.

15. Dwight Howard

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 13.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.6 bpg

Now on his fourth team of his NBA journey, Dwight Howard will try to keep his hometown Hawks relevant in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for the thirteen year pro, he is on the downhill slope of his career at least in terms of point production and blocked shots. Still a presence on the glass, Howard was once a dominant force on both sides of the court as his athleticism would allow him to keep up with the more agile big men and his size and strength would allow him to battle those who played in the paint. The Hawks have essentially replaced one thirty year old pivot with another thirty year old, but when you look at Howard’s game, it is on more of a decline than Al Horford’s and has more limitations. It isn’t right to expect Howard to return to his Orlando Magic numbers, but adding a couple more points to his statline shouldn’t be too far out of the question.

14. Tristan Thompson

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 7.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 bpg

Until the playoffs, Tristan Thompson spent most of last year splitting floor time with Timofey Mozgov, but then the second season started and Mozgov spent most of his time on the pine while Thompson grabbed the start in every one of the team’s playoff games on route to Cleveland’s first championship. With Mozgov now in LA and only “The Birdman” Chris Anderson behind him, look for Thompson to have a breakout season. Thompson’s stats won’t blow you out of the water, but it is his hustle effort that gives the Cavs the extra advantage, especially with his effort on the offensive boards. With all the firepower that Cleveland has in their starting unit, someone has to be willing to take the backseat, something that Thompson has readily accepted as his role.

13. Jonas Valanciunas

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 12.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.3 bpg

Almost a double double threat, Jonas Valanciunas is as big a part of the key for the Raptors success as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. After missing over twenty games last season due to injury, the fifth year big man needs to have a bounce back year to get back on the track of reaching the expectations that many in Canada have of the Lithuanian big man. Last season Bismack Biyombo’s energy and excitement on both ends of the floor when subbing in for the Raptors big man left some hoping that it would somehow infect JV. Considering that he have only averaged about 26 minutes of floor time per night, an increase in playing time will no doubt see a boost in stats.

12. Nikola Jokic

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 10 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.6 bpg

The Denver Nuggets have a huge problem on their hands and so do their opponents. Coach Mike Malone will be able to swap Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic at the five spot this season depending on the opposition. In his rookie season, Jokic started 55 of 80 games and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, which surprised many after being a second round draft pick in 2014. At just 21 years old, offers the Nuggets a lot of everything across the board and looks to only get better in year two. The one thing that was in Jokic’s favor last season was few knew who he was and how he played, so the element of surprise is gone and the Nuggets have to hope that he doesn’t hit the dreaded sophomore slump. If he can avoid the second year issues, the Nuggets could be in a battle for a low playoff seed in the West.

11. Marc Gasol

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 16.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.3 bpg

The younger Gasol brother doesn’t have the resume of his older brother, but has still be able to carve out a solid NBA career and been a major reason for the Grizzlies success. Unfortunately for the Memphis big man, knee and foot injuries the past few years have taken a toll on his impact on the team and their ability to head deeper into the Western Conference playoffs. As with most of the Grizzlies roster, Gasol has made his worth on the defensive end of the floor. A former Defensive Player Of The Year, as well as a All-NBA First Team member, Gasol has never been known for his foot speed, which will be a challenge as the league has headed towards the small ball style of play. Offensively, while his numbers don’t stand out, Gasol should be able to help the Grizz by stepping out for the mid-range shot or hitting his teammates for the open perimeter shot when he settles in the paint.

10. Steven Adams

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 8.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.1 bpg

When you look at his stat line, it’s confusing to see how Steven Adams is viewed as one of the better big men in the league, but not all success stories have to be found in the box scores. In only his third year, Adams has seen his value with the Thunder increase each season. A blue collar, lunch bucket type player, Adams will be given opportunity to step his game up even more this season as the Thunder traded his front court running mate Serge Ibaka and lost that other guy who manned the small forward spot. It wouldn’t be crazy to look at Adams to boost his scoring by a couple of buckets a night and add three or four boards to become a double double threat. One of the toughest players in the league on either end of the floor, Adams has found the trust of guard Russell Westbrook, both of whom will be counted on to help keep the Thunder relevant this season.

9. Brook Lopez

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 20.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.7 bpg

From a fantasy league standpoint, as a big man Robin Lopez offers a fair bit to teams. How that equates to real life isn’t necessarily the same. Sure he gets you points, rebounds, assists and shoots a solid percentage from the field and the line, but there is just something about the nine year pro that doesn’t scream elite. After a couple of seasons dealing with various injuries, Lopez appears to be back to a healthy state, appearing in 73 and 72 games in the last two seasons. Is Lopez one of those players who posts a healthy stat line on a bad team? In his time with the Nets, the team has made the playoffs only three times, twice dropping out after the first round and the one time they reached the Eastern Semi Finals, Lopez was riding the pine with injury. It would be interesting to see how the former Stanford big man would fair with a better roster surrounding him.

8. Pau Gasol

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 16.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 2.0 bpg

Pau Gasol’s two year stint in Chicago didn’t end with as much team success as the paper roster had hoped it would. However, statistically, Gasol once again found himself among the elite big men in the league after a couple of tumultuous seasons at the end of his time in LA. Teaming with Joakim Noah to provide the Bulls with an offense/defense pairing, the Chicago front line more than held their own against the opposition. Now in San Antonio, it would be hard to imagine a better place for Gasol to finish out his career than with a Coach Pop squad. While he may take a bit of a back seat to LaMarcus Aldridge in terms of his stat production, Gasol should still be able to hover around his production line from last year in the Spurs system. As one of the better passing and mid-range shooting big men in the league, Gasol’s fit in the Spurs offense will give the opposition some troubles and his defense, while not considered elite, will still give the Spurs two mobile seven footers protecting their end of the court.

7. Al Horford

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 15.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 bpg

Adding Al Horford during the summer free agent bonanza came as a surprise to many Celtics and Hawks fans. The tenth year pro comes to Beantown after spending his first nine years in Atlanta, looking to be another piece of the puzzle for Brad Stevens. Never one to really be considered an elite big man, Horford was always a constant for the Hawks. Take aside the two seasons (11/12 and 13/14) that Horford had to deal with torn pectoral muscles in both of his shoulders and he’s been solid. The 6’10” big man should fit nicely into the Celtics lineup of non-superstar players wth his ability to add a little bit of everything and not a lot of one thing, Horford can impact the C’s pick and roll/pop game offensively and provide a presence on the defensive end, whether it is matching up man to man or as part of the team defensive rotation.

6. Rudy Gobert

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 9.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.2 bpg)=

Rudy Gobert’s place on this list isn’t based highly on his offensive talents as much as it is his defensive presence. Entering his fourth season with the Jazz, Gobert only averaged 5.8 shot attempts per game last season and 4.5 overall for his career. Standing 7’1” with a 7’8” wingspan, Gobert provides the Jazz with a huge rim protection option. While many had tagged last season as the breakout year for Gobert, a MCL injury in his left knee sidetracked that prediction. With an improved Jazz roster, as a team knocking on the playoff door for the first time since 2011/12, the assumption that Gobert could add at least two or three more points to his offensive output, while maintaining his defensive contribution would go a long way in helping the Jazz step through that doorway.

5. Andre Drummond

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 16.2 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.4 bpg

The Detroit Pistons and Andre Drummond should be lined up to shake Commissioner Silver’s hand. With the recent intentional fouling rule change, players such as Drummond will now provide their team more value in late game situations. As an abysmal free throw shooter (career 38%), Drummond would find himself on the bench when it counted. Last season, Drummond led the league in double-doubles with 66 and also paced the NBA in the rebounding category. One knock on Drummond defensively is his low number of blocks (ranked outside the top 20), considering his height and athletic ability. If the Pistons big man can improve on those two areas of his game, chances are he will also increase his spot on this list next season.

4. Hassan Whiteside

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 14.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 0.4 apg, 3.7 bpg

The Miami Heat gave Hassan Whiteside nearly $100 million reasons why he should be ranked among the top five big men in the league heading into the 2016/17 season. Pat Riley believes in Whiteside’s talent enough that he signed the fifth year big man to a lofty contract before taking care of and eventually losing Heat legend Dwyane Wade. Like many other bigs on this board, the one knock against Whiteside is his ability to hit consistently from the free throw line. However, considering the rebuild state that Miami appears to be in this season, the amount of minutes and touches that Whiteside will be getting should provide him with ample opportunity to increase those numbers. But offense isn’t necessarily what Riley paid for, as the former Thundering Herd big man will make his payday on the defensive end of the court.

3. DeAndre Jordan

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 12.7 ppg, 13.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 2.3 bpg

The great thing about DeAndre Jordan is that he knows his limitations. Rarely if ever will you see him step outside the paint for a jumper and, with the makeup of the Clippers roster, he knows his role in the offense isn’t one of the top options. However, considering all of that, Jordan has proven his worth to his team on both ends of the court. Hitting 70% of his field goal attempts makes one almost forget his tragic free throw percentage and his ability to run a pick and lob with nearly anyone in a Clippers jersey is downright frightful for the opposition. Entering his ninth season with the Clippers, Jordan continues to be the defensive engine for the team with his ability to alter oppositions shot attempts, while also improving on his post defense positioning which has allowed him to be more of a help side presence. Named to the All-NBA First Team last year and also a back to back member of the NBA All-Defensive Team, Jordan continues to prove that his free agent adventure before the start of last season was well worth the trouble for the Clippers organization.

2. Karl-Anthony Towns

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 18.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.7 bpg

There are many who will laugh at placing the second year Timberwolves big man so high on the list, but when you consider the growth that KAT showed from beginning to end of his rookie year, the placement may not be so farfetched by the end of this season. Honestly, what wasn’t Karl-Anthony Towns able to provide the T-Wolves with last season? He was a presence on the boards, he shot over 50% from the field and over 80% from the line, he showed his ability to not only play with is back to the basket, but also a nice face up game, including three point range. Add to that, Towns made many feel that he may have taken over the alpha dog spot from Andrew Wiggins, a player expected to be the Wolves saviour. Not bad for a rook.

1. DeMarcus Cousins

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

2015/16 Season Avg – 26.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.4 bpg

Boogie claims top spot on the list of big men heading into the 2016/17 season but has to know that there is a young pup in Minnesota nipping at his heels to be top dog. DeMarcus Cousins has the tools to provide the Kings with a lot of everything and if he can just reel in his temper, chances are he can improve on his already impressive numbers. After getting a taste of success and professionalism with Team USA this past summer, one has to hope that the lessons carry over with Cousins as he attempts to lead a troubled Sacramento team out of the basement in the Western Conference. Many question Cousins mental and emotional stability and point to that as the only fault in his game, but when you are heading into your seventh season and now the sixth head coach during that period, add to that the constant trade rumors, the mind games would end up taking a toll on even the greatest of players.

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