Ranking the top 10 Centers in the 2021 NBA Draft

Here are the top centers in the 2021 NBA Draft ranked in my current order of preference here in early May.

While traditional centers are losing value in the modern NBA, there are still plenty of ways to add value through bigs whether it’s shoring up your depth or setting yourself apart from the competition by adding a generational type big like Evan Mobley.

Tweeners that will be included in the PF position breakdown: Usman Garuba, Scottie Barnes, Greg Brown, JT Thor, & Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Top 10 Centers in the 2021 NBA Draft

(stats courtesy of Tankathon & Barttorvik)

1) Evan Mobley- 7’0″ (USC)

  • Draft Range: Top 3
  • Role: Franchise Big

Evan Mobley is a game-changer on both sides of the floor and is the clear second-best prospect in this draft class in my opinion. He is the perfect modern big that can switch onto the perimeter, space the floor just enough, and protect the rim. His soft touch and quick decision-making lead me to believe his offensive ceiling is sky-high.

2) Kai Jones- 6’11” (Texas)

  • Draft Range: Top 15
  • Role: Versatile, Mobile Big

Jones is an athletic combo big that has the tools to become a special two-way talent that causes mayhem for opponents from a matchup standpoint. Not too many 6’11” dudes can move as fluidly as he can. Here’s our in-depth scouting report on the Texas big man: Kai Jones NBA Scouting Report.

3) Alperen Sengun- 6’10” (Turkey)

  • Draft Range: Top 20
  • Role: Versatile Offensive Big

Sengun has dominated the Turkish Super League thus far, putting up ridiculous stat lines for his age with ease. He’s got a strong frame and can finish through contact well, combined with a nice touch around the rim. The shooting projection is his biggest question mark at this point, and while the results aren’t encouraging on the surface, he is shooting free throws at an 81.2% clip and has displayed his unheard-of touch with an astounding 68% mark on two-point field goals.

4) Isaiah Jackson- 6’11” (Kentucky)

  • Draft Range: Top 20
  • Role: Rim Protector, Play Finisher

Jackson is testing the draft waters while maintaining his eligibility, so that’s something to monitor, though it seems highly unlikely he returns to school. He figures to be a rim running big that should primarily play the 5 at the next level. His 12.8 BLK% is downright absurd, as he uses his combination of size, length, and instinctive timing to block shots at a high rate.

5) Ariel Hukporti- 7’0″ (Germany)

  • Draft Range: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • Role: Rim Protector, Play Finisher

I believe Hukporti has a higher ceiling than the likes of Queta or Bassey (who he’s ranked above here), but there is also more risk associated with him. The movement skills for someone his size who is getting the creation reps he’s received early in his career bodes well for his future development. While there’s still a lot more to polish up on his game, the potential is certainly there and he has flashes that should have the undivided attention of NBA executives around the league.

6) Neemias Queta- 7’0″ (Utah State)

  • Draft Range: Late 1st/2nd round
  • Role: Rim Protector + Interior Threat 

Queta is a riser for me as I caught up on his most recent film, I see a realistic path for him to become a valuable rotation big. The intersection of rim protection and size should give him a clear role to fill from day one. While I don’t think he’s necessarily exciting, he should be competent.

7) Charles Bassey- 6’11” (Western Kentucky)

  • Draft Range: Late 1st/2nd round
  • Role: Rim Protector, Lob Threat

Bassey, like Queta, should have an immediate role to fill as a backup center that can come in and provide rim protection from day one. He absolutely dominated the mid-major college game as expected in his sophomore year. If the shooting improves, he could become a low-to-mid-tier starting center in this league. If it does not, I see him as a useful reserve center that can still carve out 15-18 minutes a night.

8) Day’Ron Sharpe- 6’11” (UNC)

  • Draft Range: Late 1st/2nd round
  • Role: Energy Big + Interior Threat

Sharpe is the prospect on here I have the most “fomo” on by far, as I could see him warranting a top 5 (center) ranking if he hits a high-end outcome quite easily. The gap from 5-8 is minimal for me, so as I dive into an upcoming piece I have on him that could change my outlook.

9) Sandro Mamukelashvili- 6’11” (Seton Hall)

  • Draft Range: 2nd round
  • Role: Stretch Combo Big

For my full in-depth breakdown on “Mamu”, read here: Sandro Mamukelashvili NBA Scouting Report 

10) Luka Garza- 6’11” (Iowa)

  • Draft Range: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • Role: Offensive Big

I’m not all that high on Garza, specifically due to his mobility on the perimeter. By the time his hips flip on an island, the guard he’s switched on will be at the rim. It’s problematic. The offensive firepower, size, and high IQ will likely carve him out a role as a backup center for a long time, but I just can’t imagine him closing out games until he improves his lateral mobility which really hinders his value

Honorable Mentions

  • Santi Aldama- F/C- 6’11”
  • Filip Petrusev- F/C- 6’11”
  • Ibou Dianko-Badji- C- 7’1″ 
  • Jay Huff- C- 7’1″ 
  • Khalifa Diop- C- 6’11”
  • Drew Timme- F/C- 6’10”

Thank you for reading. For more NBA Draft coverage, visit our NBA Draft Zone page where we have a wide variety of scouting reports and draft resources.

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