Would a Center By Any Other Name Be As Tall?

One of the great myths of the NBA is that there is a whole slew of magical 7 foot tall beings whose lone purpose on this planet is to block shots and dunk on anyone and everyone that gets in their way.  Wolves fans have been bemoaning the teams apparent lack of a "true" center for quite some time, so lets take a look at NBA centers.

Before anyone complains that player XYZ is really a PF, not a C (like Al Jefferson), all the names listed played major, if not a majority of, minutes at the center position on their respective teams.  I used to check out the top used 5-man lineups and whoever played the most minutes as a center is used in this comparison.  I did this because I feel like people go into fantasy mode when discussing the center position and I thought it would be good to base this post in the real world NBA, not the NBA that exists in each individual persons mind.  I know, I know, it's no fun when facts overrule fantasy, but here we go...

I broke the players down by height and a rough tier system from All-Star level, definite starter and on down to end of bench filler and unproven youngins' here is how it shakes out:

6'8- 6'10" 6'11-7'1" 7'2"+
Al Jefferson Dwight Howard Yao Ming
Al Horford Chris Bosh Zydrunus Ilgauskas
Emeka Okafor Shaquille O'Neal
Tyson Chandler Roy Hibbert
David Lee Tim Duncan
Kendrick Perkins Pau Gasol Hasheem Thabeet
Glen Davis Rasheed Wallace
Kevin Love
Luis Scola Brook Lopez
Paul Millsap Andrew Bogut
Chris Anderson Andrew Bynum
Ronny Turiaf Brad Miller
Zaza Pachulia Samuel Dalembert
Brandon Bass Jermaine O'Neal
Jason Maxiel Mehmet Okur
Mareese Speights Joel Pryzbilla
Marcus Camby
Udonis Haslem Chris Kaman
Darius Songaila Spencer Hawes
Nick Collison Marcin Gortat
Fabricio Oberto Marc Gasol
Chris Wilcox Joakim Noah
Tim Thomas Greg Oden
Sean Marks
Joel Anthony Desagana Diop
Josh Boone Nenad Kristic
Erick Dampier
DeJuan Blair Brendan Haywood
Andris Biedrins
Andray Blatche
Eddy Curry
Darko Milicic
Aaron Gray
Kwame Brown
Jeff Foster
Dan Gadzuric
Francisco Elson
Kosta Koufus
Robin Lopez
Rasho Nesterovic
Hilton Armstrong
JaVale McGee
BJ Mullens


Notice the plethora of 6'11" - 7'1" players that fall in the (completely subjective) rotation player/situational player category.  I'm including everyone after Greg Oden as rotation player or lower.  The way I see it, the Wolves have a Tier I in Jefferson and Tier II (potential Tier I) in Love who both fall in the 6'8"-6'10" range.  Outside of Tier I players in the 6'11"-7'1" category (and we are talking All-Star and HOF players here), the only players who could REALISTICLLY help the Wolves rotation while providing extra height would be players in Tier II of 6'11"-7'1" players.  This means, in the parameters presented, we are talking about 16 players total. Let me repeat, 16 players total.

With this in mind, who is a "true" center who is long, athletic and all the other criteria fans are always talking about that the Wolves could get, wouldn't have to over pay for and wouldn't take minutes from (or cost us in a trade) our two best players?

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