Basketball Center

Chapter 4.5

Who is the center on a basketball team? What is his/her job on the court? Get ready to learn about the center in basketball.


Basketball is a 5-on-5 game, so each team has five (5) players at all times on the court.

Rookie Road Basketball Team Image

REMEMBER: The same five (5) players on a basketball team play both offense and defense.

Each player has a unique role to fulfill on the court in both offensive and defensive situations.

In this chapter, we will learn about the shooting guard and his/her role on the court.

Meet The Center (C)

Also known as the pivot player, the center is the tallest player on the team. He/She is the player that takes jump balls at the center circle to put the ball into play. You can also find him/her near the low post making aggressive plays such as dunking the ball or getting rebounds. The center is known as player 5 when referring to play diagrams.

Rookie Road Basketball Center Image

Goals And Job

Since players are constantly transitioning between offense and defense during a basketball game, so are their goals. When on offense, the center's jobs are:

When on defense, the center's jobs are:

Key Statistics

There are few important statistics that define how good a center is:

We'll learn more about basketball statistics in future tutorials.


The center will position himself/herself as close to the basket as possible often near the low post.

Top NBA Centers Of All Time

Here are some of the best centers to ever play the game of basketball that you should know:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Bill Russell
  • Shaquille O'Neal

PRO TIP: You may notice that some basketball players are listed under multiple positions. Like we mentioned before, the player positions are slightly archaic and the roles on the court often overlap. It is not uncommon for a player to be good at multiple positions. The term swingman refers to a player who can play both the small forward and power forward positions.

2017-18 NBA Centers

Here are some centers in the NBA that you should know:

  • Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

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