What Is a Center in Basketball? All About Role, Skills, and Best Center Players

Being a basketball lover do you know about the importance of a center in basketball? Well, in this article I will guide you about the role of a center in basketball. This position is considered to be one of the basic pillars of the game. The Center is not known by only one name in fact the center is also referred to as the five, the pivot, or the big man. Center position responsibilities are not tuff as compared to the center point because a center is usually positioned near the baseline or close to the basket. Get all information about what is a center in basketball.

What Is a Center in Basketball

Centers normally score near the closest area of the basket which is the low post: however, most of the centers tend to be good perimeter shooters as well. The centers are mastered in rim protection, pulling down rebounds, setting screens on players, and contesting shots. The center player’s height gives them an advantage in hitting layups, close shots, and dunking.

The center is considered to be the tallest and most physically strong player among all five positions. The center position player’s height is close to 7 feet which gives them superiority over other players. Basketball centers are the assets of the team due to their good shooting ability outside the three-point line. The center position player’s height gives them an extensive advantage as they are better at focusing on rebounding and shot-blocking. This video will help you to understand more about the center position.

Recommended to read: Point vs Shooting Guard

Want to know more about the center position? Let’s have a look at the below details to know more about the role of a center.

1. Role of Center Position Player

Being a tall player the center is a valuable asset for defense and offense. The center’s role is different in both offense and defense that’s why their role is crucial in making a team successful. Centers in defense are responsible to protect their own goal from high-percentage close attempts but on offense, they are responsible for scoring and rebounding. But player should be better rebounder for this position.

The center performs the following role as an offense;

The center’s role in the offense is to get offensive rebounds and also block defensive players. The center player’s height gives them an opportunity to perform easy layups and dunk the ball.

  • Easy Layups
  • Getting Offensive Rebounds
  • Dunking
  • Setting Screens on Players

The center performs the following role as a Defense;

In a defensive position, a center’s role is to get defensive rebounds and prevent offensive players to score baskets. The tall height gives the center defensive player an advantage to stop offensive players from shooting by blocking shots.

  • Collect Defensive Rebounds
  • Guard and Block Offensive Players
  • Avoid Foul

2. Skills Required to Be an Exceptional Center Player

What skills are necessary to be an exceptional center player? The center position player must be mastered in following skills to become a valuable asset to the team.

  • Shot blocking
  • Rebounding
  • Posting Up
  • Passing
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Footwork and Positioning

The center player is the best shot blocker due to their tall height and strong body which gives them superiority over short players. They play close to the basket and got opportunities to rebound the ball therefore a center needs to be skillful at rebounding. Posting up and passing plays a crucial role in a center player position. The above skills prove beneficial for a center player.

3. The Best Center Players

The center is considered to be an important component of a successful team and there are very famous players who play in the center position and become legends of the game. You can learn and improve your game by watching their matches.

George Mikan:

The center position players were typically not tall before the 1940s but then a player George Mikan comes into the game with an exception height of 6 ft 10 in. He was the exceptionally tall center who developed the agility and coordination to play the game well. In his professional career, Mikan wins seven National Basketball League and several Basketball Association of America and NBA Championships. The hook shot and shot block were introduced by Mikan. The NBA decision to widen the foul lane is known as the Mikan rule.

Bill Russell:

Bill Russell revolutionize the basketball game as a central player in the 1960 era by combining height and superior athleticism which were never shown by the previous centers. Bill won five MVP awards, 12-time NBA All-Star, and also holds the record for top eighteen season averages for rebounds. Russell brings changes in defensive strategy with the help of shot-blocking, rebounding, and physical man-to-man defense.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest players in basketball and undoubtedly one of the best center position players. He was awarded the title of the greatest center of all time in 2007 by ESPN. Abdul-Jabbar won six regular-season MVP awards and was famous for his trademark shot ‘Skyhook’. Kareem is the inspiration of many new players who want to be an exceptional center player.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who’s the best center of all time?

If we talk about the best centers in basketball history then you cannot miss the below names.

  • George Mikan
  • Bill Russell
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
  • David Robinson
  • Shaquille O’Neal

What is the center called in basketball?

A center is known by different names in basketball such as 5, Pivot, Big man, and C. The center is also known by these names in the game.

Are centers usually big?

The center players are considered to be big as compared to the other position players. The centers are normally tall in height and physical strength to dominate the opponent players. The center normally plays close to the basket therefore their big height gives them an advantage in shot-blocking, rebounding, and man-to-man defense.


Want to be a legendary center player then take inspiration from George Mikan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Hakeem Olajuwon games. You can improve your skills to be an outstanding player. I have mentioned all the details that will help you to enhance your knowledge about centers in the game. If you have good height and center skills then no one can beat you in the game.

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