With the classic beatdown big man basically eradicated from the NBA, it isn’t that rare to see centers taking the ball up the court, making flashy passes, or hitting deep threes. So the question today is, if all 30 starting NBA centers were switched to the point guard position, who would fare the best?
#1) Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Stats: 7.1 apg, 32.5% 3PT (1.2/3.7), 1.3 SPG
For Jokic, a switch to point guard wouldn’t be much of a hassle. In fact, sometimes he has to be coached to go down low and score in the post, (which he is also very good at for the record). Jokic is by far the best passing big man in the league, having the vision and finesse to hit basically any cutter, open or not. Jokic has racked up 7.1 assists per game this year, and in the three game where he’s surpassed 10 assists, the Nuggets have won. Along with his ability to create for his teammates, Jokic has a lot of confidence in his three-point shot, often pulling up from beyond the arc with a man in his face, and often hitting them as well. Jokic may not have the speed to drive to the rim very often, but with his passing, three-point shooting, and ability to get to the line and convert (83.1% FT), the 6’10”, mildly unathletic Jokic would be a pretty solid option at point guard.
#2) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Stats: 4.6apg, 34% 3PT (0.8/2.5), 1.5 spg
This one makes sense. Before a major growth spurt in high school, Davis was a guard his entire basketball career. It may be hard to believe, given that he has some of the most refined and powerful post play in the league, but Davis is a very good ball handler, and a decent shooter as well. While Davis isn’t quite the passer Jokic is, his assist average has doubled last year’s (2.3), without a significant raise in turnovers. Davis will consistently make open threes, and can defend guards on screens quite effectively. AD is the engine behind his team, and every year, his guard skills have improved.
#3 Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Stats: 4.0 apg, 41.7% 3PT (1.9/4.6), 1.7 spg
After Memphis’ disappointing 2017-2018 season, Marc Gasol unfortunately fell out of the spotlight. While many don’t realize it, Gasol may have been the first big man to really revolutionize the position. Since 2011, Gasol has yet to average less than three assists per game, including 4 seasons of over 4. Over the last 3 seasons, he has expanded his game to the three point line, shooting at an elite percentage, especially for a center. Among centers this year, Gasol ranks 2nd in assists, 1st in steals per game, and 1st in three-point percentage. You might think Gasol has lost his touch, but truthfully, he’s still getting better.
#4) Karl Anthony-Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Stats: 2.3apg, 39.6% 3PT (1.8/4.6), 0.8 spg
Karl Anthony-Towns has his pros and cons, and while his work ethic and impact have come into question recently, nobody questions his talent. Towns isn’t the passer or creator that Jokic and Gasol are, but he has a solid three-point shot, and can use his dribble to create shots for himself. Towns doesn’t necessarily have the instinct to be a great point guard like the three above do, but his natural ball-handling, shooting, and speed would make him a viable option.
#5) Al Horford, Boston Celtics
Stats: 3.4apg, 34.1% 3PT (1.3/3.9), 0.8spg
Horford has had a pretty impressive metamorphosis in his career. Starting out in Atlanta, Horford took on the role as the star, and a true center: shooting efficient, short shots, blocking shots, and grabbing around 10 boards a game. However, upon his arrival to Boston in 2016, and playing alongside stars like Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving, Horford proved he could find his niche in any offense, transforming to a creator and “pocket-knife” for the Celtics. Since his arrival in Boston, Horford has averaged 4.4 apg, and has shot 38.4% from 3. Somehow he did this while earning multiple bids for defensive player of the year. Al Horford is the definition of versatile, and while his speed would put him at a disadvantage, he could be a solid distributor and reliable shooter for any NBA team.
Honorable Mention: Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks