The 10 Best Passing Centers In The NBA

By: 02.07.14
Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah (Jennifer Stewart/USA TODAY Sports)

The center position is becoming a role that emphasizes versatility. The art of passing is a beautiful concept in the sport, but when executed appropriately by centers, it is a strength that should not be overlooked. Superstars like Bill Walton and Chris Webber–even though he normally manned the four-spot–exemplified the effective passing center, and their offenses instantly became more dangerous because of this ability.

Too often, big men have a reputation for being horrible ballhandlers with butterfingers, and therefore bad passers. Yet the centers that appear on this list excel in the art of passing. So, who are the top ten passing centers in the game today? Let’s find out.

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10. Al Horford
Assists Per Game: 2.6
Assist Ratio: 12.6
Assist/Bad Pass: 2.8
Passing Rating: 2. 6
While Paul Millsap has made an excellent impression in his new home in Atlanta, which secured a reserve spot on this year’s All-Star team, Al Horford’s absence cannot be ignored. Horford was in the process of posting his best season yet when he went down with a pectoral tear. While his surgery to repair his injury will cause him to miss the rest of the season, Horford remains one of the best passing centers in the game today. He is keenly aware of what pass to make at the elbow, primarily in pick-and-roll sets. Horford also excels in the high post, where he can locate cutters or teammates along the perimeter, waiting to catch and shoot, such as the lethal three-point machine, Kyle Korver. In fact, 28 out of his total 75 dimes on the season are kick-out passes to spot-up shooters on the three-point line.

Horford is one of the most underrated all-around players in the game today, and his passing I.Q. is just one of the weapons he can use to beat opponents.

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9. Kevin Garnett
Assists Per Game: 1.6
Assist Ratio: 15.1
Assist/Bad Pass: 2.5
Passing Rating: 2.7
First, it should be noted that Kevin Garnett qualifies for this list of best passing centers due to the fact that he has played the center position for 70 percent (per Basketball-Reference) of the season thus far in Brooklyn with the absence of an injured Brook Lopez. With that said, KG has sustained the reputation of handling the ball like a guard, especially when it comes to passing. His no-look pass to a teammate under the basket when facing a double-team has become a famous staple in The Big Ticket’s arsenal, as you can see in the video below. KG also possesses great court vision that he has developed throughout his career, enabling him to see where the ball should go for the best result. Countless outlet passes and kick-outs to the perimeter have ensued because of this ability.

Garnett has always been an impact, two-way player, and his passing skills get stronger as his career advances.

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