Metta World Peace Explains How Joel Embiid & Marc Gasol Saved the Center Position in NBA

Published 03/03/2021, 6:30 PM EST
Feb 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after a score against the Chicago Bulls during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


The center position in the current NBA is more diverse than before. From a superb shot blocker and rebounder like Joel Embiid to a point center like Nikola Jokic who can find the right pass almost every time, the league has it all.

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But the centers certainly had their fair share of changes. In the last ten years, the NBA has transformed itself from being a defense-first league to having a blazing offensive display. Much of it is because of how prevalent the three-point shot has become.

Ever since players like Steph Curry and James Harden showed that lights out shooting can win you big games, the offensive schemes around the league has changed.

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Dec 27, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) and Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) battle for a rebound in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Centers no longer were responsible for protecting the rim, they also had to develop a jump shot to stretch the floor. All-Star centers like Roy Hibbert, who failed to add this skill, fell off a cliff in the later part of the decade.

The most prominent examples for the modern-day centers are Joel Embiid and Marc Gasol. Both Gasol and Embiid use their massive size and physical prowess in the defensive end and given their potential from the perimeter, can’t be left open for a three-pointer.

Metta World Peace explains the importance of Marc Gasol and Joel Embiid

Former NBA champion Metta World Peace a.k.a Ron Artest thinks that players like Gasol and Embiid who adjusted to the modern NBA were pivotal to save the center position in the league.

In conversation with NBA insider Scoop B Robinson, Artest said, “If it wasn’t for Joel [Embiid] and Marc Gasol shooting threes and forcing themselves to have to shoot threes, they [NBA centers] would be on the bench. Shoutout to the bugs for fighting for what’s right which is the 5 spot. That’s your spot.”

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While Embiid might be the perfect modern-day center currently, but in reality, it was Gasol who was essential in the transition to the modern-day NBA center. The number 5 position has been reinvented and a new era of big men is looming.

Not a single center in the NBA has won the MVP trophy in the last 20 years. Lakers’ legend and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal won the trophy back in the 1999-2000 season.

After 20 long years, there is a genuine chance that a proper center is one of the favorites to win the MVP trophy. The 7’0″ Cameroonian is the standout player for the top seed 76ers and also has the second-highest PER in the league.

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The other center in the MVP conversation right now is Nikola Jokic. Can a center finally win the MVP trophy this season?

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Aditya Mohapatra

725 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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