The last installment of the “They would do work in this era” series. This is probably the group of players that has changed the most over time. The center position has gone from the low block to the 3 pt line (sometimes). These guys used to be rim protectors and now they’re switching onto PG’s off screens and sliding those puppies and defending on the perimeter. It’s a different day as far as the big guys go. Here are a few from the past I think would excel today…………….
1. Hakeem Olajuwon
Not gonna waste any time here. This is the quintessential swiss army knife big man. He could do everything. He gets the ball in the post? Curtains. He gets the ball on the wing? Curtains. He gets the ball in the high post? Curtains. If you double team? Curtains. It’s nothing you could do to stop it. And he was just as impactful and versatile on the defensive end. With centers today moving further and further away from the hoop and facing up as opposed to playing with their back to basket, Dream would flourish.
2. Rik Smits
The Dunking Dutchman. He was a mid-range killer, had a sweet touch around the basket and was a phenomenal passer. When he got the ball in the high post area, it was a nightmare for the opposition. In an era geared towards the Center needing to be apt to creating and scoring, Smits would definitely be able to maximize his abilities in today’s game. At 7’4″ with his skill set, I don’t think would be a welcome sight for any opposing team.
3. Sam Perkins
One of the stretchiest stretch bigs to ever play the game. His 3 pt shooting opened up so much for his teams offensively. And he could put the ball on the floor and get to the basket if the opposing big decided to step out there into no man’s land. This era favors the trey ball so Big Smooth would love it. I’m sure he’d prefer bombing away from deep instead of banging in the trenches. Although he was about that action as well.
4. Ralph Sampson
Straight up freak of nature. 7’4″, runs like a deer, athletic as they come. If not for injuries, who knows what he would have become. If he played today, I imagine a lot of pick and rolls, him diving to the basket and catching a ton of alley oops. Sampson was the original unicorn.
5. Brad Daugherty
One of the most underrated centers to ever play the game. He ran the floor better than a lot of guards. Extremely effective from about 18 ft on in. Gifted outlet passer which would be a good skill to have in today’s fast break happy NBA. These guys like to get out and run and Daugherty could start breaks and get down the floor with the best of them. Certainly under appreciated in his time and cut down prematurely by injuries but I’m certain in the climate of today’s game he would be a superstar.
The game today is loaded with “do it all” bigs. Guys like Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins, Kristaps Porzingis and Karl Anthony Towns are the prototype of what front court players will look like moving forward. All of the guys mentioned have the unique skill sets that would allow them to be successful in today’s NBA. Who is missing from the list?