We all know the game of the big man has drastically changed. Went from great footwork and playing down low in the box to centers chucking up several 3p shots /game over the last 10 years in the game. The 1980s had some of the best and most skilled centers to have played the game, let’s take a good look at who were the best bigs to have played in the 80s.
We will look at the 5’s who played at least 5 seasons in the decade.
This is the 10StarPicks Top 10 centers of the 1980’s;
10. Mark Eaton; 6.7 ppg / 8.5 rpg / 4.0 bpg / 0x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 45% FG
Often overlooked by many fans. At 7-4 the big southpaw was a defensive master, winning defensive player of the year on 2 different occasions. He was a huge, thick wall to try and conquer in the paint. He wasn’t a scoring threat, which is primarily because he played with John Stockton and Karl Malone, who was a legendary scorer.
9. Bill Laimbeer; 13.9 ppg / 10.7 rpg / 1.0 bpg / 0x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 50% FG
Laimbeer was a key cog in the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons. Hated by most, and in their own reasoning, they probably all have a story as to why they hate him. Whether it was his hard fouls or his constant complaining to the refs. But, truth be told he was one of the best shooting centers of the era, being able to knock it down from 16′ with ease, he was also a real stud when it came to getting rebounds.
8. Dan Issel; 19.8 ppg / 6.9 rpg / 0.6 bpg / 0x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 50% FG
The undersized center was in his prime in the ABA when he was scoring 26 and grabbing 11 boards /game. His scoring touch and toughness was what made him very respected across the NBA. He had a nice shot and was a real challenge to handle for 14 seasons.
7. Artis Gilmore; 15.2 ppg / 9.0 rpg / 1.9 bpg / 0x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 63% FG
Artis made his living by hitting the glass. With 9 overall seasons with 12 rebounds /game or better and 5 seasons of 10 or more average in the 80s. The 7-2 center had 3 seasons of 18+ppg and 10+ rpg – he was older in the 80s but could still do more than his share of damage on the court.
6. Jack Sikma; 16.8 ppg / 9.9 rpg / 1.0 bpg / 0x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 47% FG
Goldilocks was a smooth shooter, and a really good rebounder. With 6 seasons with 10 boards or better – he was always a problem for other bigs to try and maintain. As he was able to step out and stick it from outside the paint with great consistency.
5. Robert Parish; 17.7 ppg / 10.4 rpg / 1.6 bpg / 2x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 56% FG
“Chief” was a perennial superstar center for years. Playing with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale brought him to another level, after leaving Golden State. He was quiet, and just went out and did his job.
And he did it well.
But he was also an enforcer if someone needed it as well.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; 20.2 ppg / 7.2 rpg / 1.9 bpg / 5x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 57% FG
The 6 time MVP in the 70’s was heading into his twilight of his amazing 20 year career in the 80’s and he was still incredible. Making the All NBA team 5 times in the decade, where he was playing 2nd fiddle to Magic and James Worthy, quite honestly.
3. Patrick Ewing; 22.9 ppg / 9.3 rpg / 3.1 bpg / 3x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 54% FG
Coming out of Georgetown he was looked at as the next big center to play in the NBA. He was a beast to try and deal with. With his long body and strong frame, he had great range and was able to block shots with ease, along with an array of post moves.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon; 23.2 ppg / 12.4 rpg / 3.4 bpg / 5x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 0 MVPs / 52% FG
“The Dream” was early in his Hall of Fame career. It didn’t take long for anyone to shake their head in awe when watching him play the game. With amazing feet, great hustle and a sneaky good mid jumper, he dominated.
1. Moses Malone; 23.8 ppg / 12.7 rpg / 1.4 bpg / 6x All NBA (1st or 2nd team) / 2 MVPs / 48% FG
The 6-10 center played for 20 seasons, and in the 80s, he had 5 seasons grabbing 12 or more boards /season, including 4 years getting 5+ off the offensive glass. He kept teams on their toes, his scoring touch down low and ability to continuously wrack up offensive rebounds was nothing to ignore.
The 80’s had great big men – if you agree or disagree with who is listed, or where they landed on the list, let us know!