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Ranking the top five center free agents

We take a look at the top five free agent centers on the market ahead of the 2020 NBA season.

Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons in action against Taj Gibson of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 08, 2020 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Pistons 96-84.  Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Two-time All-Star Andre Drummond has a player option worth nearly $29 million ahead of the 2020 season and appears to be content spending one more season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. There aren’t centers with superstar potential on the market, but plenty of bigs could be significant upgrades for teams looking to improve post play. Here’s our list of the top five free agent centers up for grabs.

1) Christian Wood

Blake Griffin’s season-ending knee surgery and Drummond’s trade allowed Wood to show the World what he’s really made of, and he was very impressive toward the end of the regular season. Wood averaged 19.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while averaging just under 30 minutes per contest for his last 22 games. The 25-year old was also able to stretch the floor and shot 38.6 percent from deep last season.

2) Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside was made irrelevant when Jusuf Nurkic returned to the Portland Trail Blazers but is a double-double machine that can protect the rim at an elite level. It’s unlikely that Whiteside can earn the $27 million per year like he did last season, but shot blocking and rebounding are things a lot of teams need right now. Whiteside is limited on the offensive side of the ball and lacks defensive discipline, but has all the physical tools you want from a center.

3) Tristan Thompson

Thompson flew under the radar playing with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers last season but averaged a career-high 12 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Now that Drummond appears set to pair with Kevin Love in the frontcourt next season, there’s not room for Thomson. Thompson’s physicality and rebounding could be an asset to a host of teams as a starter or role player.

4) Aron Baynes

The official Aron Baynes fan club might not be too happy with this ranking, but the big man certainly earned his stripes last season. Baynes nearly doubled his career high in points per game in 11.5 and also set career highs in rebounds (5.6) and assists (2.1) per game last season. Baynes got much more playing time than expected because of Deandre Ayton’s 25-game suspension and proved that he can be a valuable contributor with the opportunity.

5) Marc Gasol

Gasol is nowhere near being a Defensive Player of the Year candidate at 35 years old but is the kid of veteran leader plenty of teams want. More than half the big man’s shots last season were from beyond the arc so it’s clear that he won’t be much of a post presence. He can give you teams plenty of effort and sturdy team defense of the bench.

Honorable mentions:

Mason Plumlee
Dwight Howard (player option)