NBA centers aren’t extinct, they’ve just evolved

Nikola Jokic
Image: Getty Images

The family tree: Bill Walton, Yao Ming, Bob McAdoo, Arvydas Sabonis

The descendants: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Vucevic

Hereditary traits: Triple-double machines, high post passes, spacing, elite footwork, field vision

The breakdown: In every basketball game, there is an ever-changing set of variables. But for some centers, they are the nexus being, the constant in all of them, capable of filling any stat box. They are there for the pass: to catch it, throw it or point it out to a teammate. They can come back, recover, take a step back, pull up, avoid, make a euro, kick out and score. I’m a great bodyguard. A coach with a shirt. The best defender on the team who can give you 30 and a star who does the dirty work.

They have 20-10 nights of sleep. Double triples are what happens on an average day. At least one of them is in each season’s MVP conversation. Sometimes, like with The Joker last year, they win it. Most of the time, they were born overseas. But sometimes, they originate in North America and, like the rare unicorn, can perform spells with sold out lists and novice trainers. Whatever difficult situation their teams find themselves in, it is certain that they have a MacGyver-like trick or swap to find a solution.


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