Let the real NBA season begin. With an unbelievable NBA Final behind us, the offseason is officially upon us. This is where teams are built. This is where teams can either make huge strides forward or throw in the chips to and elect just to start over.
After watching an epic 7 game Finals, a question arose; is there still a need for a center in the NBA? Sure this has been a question since the Heat really assembled their current team. But in a Finals which featured Chris Bosh and Tim Duncan as the starting 5’s for most of the series, it proves the game is changing.
If proof is the top teams in the playoffs, and the lack of “true centers”. The question is, is Nikola Pekovic really worth $12+ million a season? The Western Conference alone featured 1 team in the playoffs that had a “true center” and that was the Memphis Grizzlies. Sure Dwight Howard seems to still be all of the rage, but he is limited. For all of Dwight’s strengths, there are a lot of weaknesses OKC with Kendrick Perkins isn’t really a threat of a 2 way true center, and do you really think Kosta Koufos is a dominant 5 in today’s NBA? Omer Asik, while a 7 footer, hasn’t proven to be a real offensive threat. Andrew Bogut started to show signs of life in the post season, but has some more strides to make before he will be back to the player who was in Milwaukee.
In a time where data is king, and success is the measuring stick, the “true center” is becoming extinct. Athleticism has proven to be the new formula for success in the modern NBA. For example LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and even James Harden have proven to be the top level of basketball players in today’s NBA. Gone are the days of Olajuwon, Ewing, Abdul Jabbar and O’Neal. Sure both Wilt and Russell were big men, but when you watch them play, they were often times the most athletic players on the floor. They just happened to also be the tallest.
Nikola Pekovic isn’t the most athletic player in the NBA, there is no arguing that. He is more of a prototypical old school NBA center. Does a team really want to tie up $12 million in a tighter salary cap league into a dying position?
Personally I like Pek. The progress he has made has been tremendous, but, there is still a ceiling every player hits. If Pek is close to his ceiling, is it really worth $12+ million a season over the next 4-5 seasons?
Justification can be brutal. The Timberwolves can easily justify spending $12+ million, but at the end of the day, justification is really talking yourself into a decision. Making a decision in your head makes sense when you gauge it with your heart.
Truth of the matter is that the regardless of where the league is going, the Wolves do need Pek. Last season isn’t the best measuring stick for Wolves lineups, but the top 5 lineups on the season for the Wolves, had Pek in them.
So maybe the real question is, in a changing NBA, can a team with an inside presence compete in a changing league?