The Art of Passing at the Center Position

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Great passing is a concept we expect from the small guys out on the floor but when we see it from the guys in paint; it makes our heads spin. There’s nothing in the rule book that says big men can’t pass and with the game evolving and more big men moving out on the perimeter, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing impressive passing coming from the center position. Court vision and precision passing is an art and we’re going to look at a few centers in the league that possess that ability.

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League Leaders in Assists per game at the Center position via ESPN.com

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah currently leads the league in assists per game at the center positioni He has been one of the best passers in the league since he was drafted in 2007. He leads all centers in assists per game this season, and it’s amazing how he does it so effortlessly and willingly. Noah has been in the top ten in assists at his position since the 2009-2010 season, leading the league last season and this season as well. Joakim has recorded a total of seven triple-doubles in which six of those he had 10 or more assists. Noah has been all about team basketball and doing whatever it takes to benefit the Bulls since he became a NBA player.

 Joakim Noah Triple Doubles

Feb. 22, 2012 vs. Milwaukee Bucks13 pts/13 reb/10 assists – *First triple double by a Bulls Center since Artis Gilmore
Dec. 18, 2012 vs. Boston Celtics11 pts/13 reb/10 assists
Feb. 18, 2013 vs. Philadelphia 76ers23 pts/21 reb/11 blocks
Feb. 11, 2014 vs. Atlanta Hawks19 pts/16 reb/11 assists
Mar. 2, 2014 vs. New York Knicks13 pts/12 reb/14 assists – *Most assists by a Center since 1986
Mar. 5, 2015 vs. Detroit Pistons10 pts/11 reb/11 assists
Apr. 9, 2014 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves15pts/13 reb/10 assists

DeMarcus Cousins
One name you don’t expect to hear in the assist conversation is that of DeMarcus Cousins.  Most people think of Cousins as a talented individual and a great post scorer but the main thing that trumps his game is his bad attitude. All the press that he gets on his antics takes away from all that he does on the court.

Cousins is top five in assists but what stands out to me more is the importance to his team. When it comes to the percentage of teammate’s field goals that the player assisted, DeMarcus leads all centers in the category with 19.4% to go along with his usage rate of 33.8 which is ranked 4th amongst all players. It’s an important stat because it shows how he’s getting others involved instead of just putting up shots.

Marc Gasol

Gasol is a household name when it comes to passing at the center position whether you’re talking Pau or Marc. In this instance, we’re talking about the big guy in Memphis. Marc Gasol currently has the most assists amongst all centers and it’s no surprise with his passing ability.  He’s most known for his defensive prowess, but what he’s able to provide for this Grizzlies team on the offensive end has been very dynamic. His ability to knock down the free throw line extended jump shot is great but when you get the high-low action between he and Zach Randolph, they become so dangerous. Marc Gasols skill level is a bit underrated in my opinion but his passing ability and importance to the Memphis Grizzlies isn’t going unnoticed this year.

Who are other big men with great passing ability? Hit us on Twitter with your thoughts and opinions. @BBallSociety_ 

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