NBA

Top 3 Centers in Every NBA Team’s Franchise History

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Atlanta Hawks

3. Walt Bellamy

“Bells” as he was affectionately known was drafted out of Indiana University in 1961 as the 1st overall pick. Bellamy was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1962 after having arguably one of the three greatest rookie seasons in NBA history, averaging 31.6 points per game that season coupled with 19 rebounds per game. Bellamy played for the Bullets, Knicks and Pistons before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks in 1970. He averaged just 11.6 points that season, but he rallied to average 14.7 points for the Hawks in 1971, 18.6 in ’72 and 16.1 in ’73. Each season, the Hawks made the playoffs, so he wasn’t just a good individual player for this franchise. He had one more solid season, averaging 13.1 points and 9.6 rebounds for the Hawks in 1973-74. Talking about all-time greats, of course, he would be #1 here.. but in Hawks history – he takes the third spot.

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2. Dikembe Mutombo

Mutombo was never known for his offensive skill set, but his defensive prowess was more than enough to make up for it.  He won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in the Atlanta and though he never led the league in blocks during his time there, he is second on the NBA’s all-time leaderboard for blocks (3,289). Mount Mutombo was a game-changer in the paint, and even on shots he didn’t block, he altered them just enough to cause even more misses. Because of his defensive skills, Mutombo earned four NBA All-Defensive Team selections, two All-NBA selections and five All-Star appearances. He also led the league in rebounding in his last two seasons in Atlanta. Without a doubt the greatest defender in franchise history, Mutombo was the trade piece that helped send the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals once he departed from Georgia. The finger wag helped him build his notoriety, but even without it we’d remember Mutombo as one of the greatest defensive centers of all time.

MIAMI - APRIL 25: Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks backs down Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Miami Heat during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at American Airlines Arena on April 25, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Hawks 107-78. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

1. Al Horford

A lifelong Atlanta Hawk and 3-time NBA All-Star, Al Horford has established himself as one of the top big men of the late 2000’s. He is very consistent, very hard working, flies under the radar and his career averages of 14/9/3 on a wildly efficient 54% from the field proves just that. I expect Horford to stay a Hawk for a long time and continue to move up the ranks in terms of greatest Atlanta Hawks in the teams history and, in my opinion, he takes the title as the greatest Center in team history.