Ball Don't Lie - NBA

As summer winds down and the day-to-day "news" falls flat, BDL will be ranking each NBA position. Here's an explanation.

In this post, we take on the centers, 32-through-23.Click the jump for the run.

. Erick Dampier(notes), Charlotte Bobcats (last year: 27th)

Damp has been a sort of punchline over the last few seasons, but he's also a stout rebounding center who can catch passes, set terrific (if not altogether legal) screens and finish with two hands. He's in limbo in Charlotte right now, the team is desperate to trade him before his contract becomes guaranteed for 2010-11, and though he's not worth the eight figures he'll make, this is still a guy worth seeking out.

. Kendrick Perkins(notes), Boston Celtics (last year: 25th)

If Perk were healthy to start the season - if we thought we'd see him at full strength at any time between now and the end of the 2010 calendar year - he'd be way up this list. As it stands, though we assume he's a dogged rehab freak, burly centers have the hardest time recovering from ACL tears. So while Perkins might be back by late December, it'll take a little while after that for him to round into shape. Thus, the low ranking.

. Mehmet Okur(notes), Utah Jazz (last year: 16th)

The same flies for Mehmet, though both he and Kendrick have never been accused of flying around the court much.

Okur's major injury occurred over a month before Kendrick's. Though his Achilles tear might prove to be more damaging, he's still a better player than Perk at this point, which is why he gets the slight nod. That said, if the Jazz can get 30 Okur-ish games this year, they should be pretty happy.

29. Jermaine O'Neal(notes), Boston Celtics (last year: 21st)

After tailing off for years and bouncing back for a spell during 2009-10, all signs seem to point to it being a fluky run for the former All-Star. So this is what we have in mind as we rank him 27th, even if he was better than the 27th-best center in the NBA last season. Hopefully he continues the renaissance and proves this ranking wrong while subbing for Perkins in Boston.

. Brad Miller(notes), Houston Rockets (last year: 19th)

Miller's superb package of offensive gifts is finding it harder and harder to make up for the other side of his game. The Purdue product has turned into one of this league's poorest defensive rebounders at his position and his help defense leaves a lot to be desired. He's still a terrific passer from both the high and low post and he's perfect to spell Yao Ming(notes) as the Rockets try to guard Yao's minutes this season.

. DeMarcus Cousins(notes), Sacramento Kings (last year: unranked)

DeMarcus is a curious case. He's a rookie and hasn't proven anything, and the Kings might play him at power forward more than they do center. Even if they do run him in the pivot, Samuel Dalembert(notes) is around as the likely starter, sopping up minutes. Plus, Cousins is a raw rookie. Nothing to rely upon.

But on this list, he's ahead of a backup, someone who might not have a job in a month's time, two guys who might combine to play 45 good games and a former All-Star who could be done by December. Cousins at his best should be better than them, even this early. Especially if Dalembert (who has a massive expiring contract) gets sent out midway through 2010-11.

. Tyson Chandler(notes), Dallas Mavericks (last year: 26th)

Tyson's a backup, we know, and it's hard to even pencil him in for 65 games this season. But at his peak he can change a game defensively without having to even block a shot, he can run the floor and he has a knack for finding his way toward the rim when a great lob-tossing point guard (say, a Jason Kidd(notes)-type) is involved in the play.

. Samuel Dalembert, Sacramento Kings (last year: unranked)

Sam has had his detractors, and he still makes enough poorly conceived plays on either end of the floor to leave him off the court in clutch situations and off last year's list. But he can finish in the paint, nail that high-arcing jumper and block shots with the best of them. On top of that, he's never hurt, a real oddity in a league that regularly carts 7-footers to the hospital.

. Robin Lopez(notes), Phoenix Suns (last year: unranked)

Finally figuring out how to rebound, Lopez improved in his second season with the Suns with only a scary back injury holding him back. He's learned a nifty little line-drive jumper, he moves his feet while defending well and he took to the defensive glass with abandon last season after looking terrible in that regard during his rookie year.

. JaVale McGee(notes), Washington Wizards (last year: 30th)

An athletic marvel, JaVale has the gifts in place needed to shoot up another 10 spots on this list during 2010-11, but we'd rather go conservative with his placement and look like a fool once he starts pouring on the double-doubles and high block totals. Still a project, but one that could change a few games for Washington this season.

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