Basketball Center

Basketball Center

The center is one of 5 positions on the basketball court. Centers are typically the tallest and most physical members of the basketball team. Traditionally, most centers will stay in the low post area and don't need to be the best dribblers, shooters, or playmakers.

The center is commonly abbreviated as C or the number 5, like in our diagrams.


The Center Position

With size as their biggest advantage, the center can focus on rebounding, shot blocking, and post moves to add value to their team. However, in modern basketball, many centers are beginning to expand their range and skills to become more outside players. Some notable centers include Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwan, and Shaquille O'Neal.

Role and Responsibilities

The center is a tall player. This size attribute enables the center to be a great asset to the team both on offense and defense. In addition to taking jump balls, the center has many roles on the court.

Centers are responsible for taking jump balls at the start of each game. The jump ball occurs in the circle at half court and is where the ball is put into play at the start of a game or overtime period. On a jump ball, the center will go against a member of the other team, leap into the air, and attempt to tap the ball with one hand to a teammate.

When on offense, the center has the following roles on the court:

When on defense, the center has the following roles on the court:

Types of Basketball Centers

The Big Man

The big man is a term used to describe the Center, who is one of the biggest and largest players on the basketball team. The big man can shoot from outside the three-point line and grab rebounds by playing physically.

Big men are still valued in the NBA and other leagues, though. Adding shooting ability in addition to post moves can be an extremely valuable asset for any big man in the league.

Some famous big men include Shaquille O'Neal, Yao Ming, and Charles Barkley. The tallest player in NBA history was Manute Bol at 7ft 7in. The heaviest was Olliver Miller at a whopping 375 lbs.

Center Statistics

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

Center Strategy

Low Post Play

Centers spend most of their time close to the basket and near the paint by the low post. Since the center is generally so tall, he has a great height advantage that makes hitting layups, close shots, and even dunking an easy task. A skilled center should have a variety of post moves under his belt to use during game situations.