The 67th NBA All-Star game will be played on February 18 in the Staples Center (Los Angeles). This year, instead of the traditional matchup between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, All-Star players were picked by the two captains. The Eastern captain, three times NBA finals MVP and champion LeBron James, has averaged 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game this season so far. He picked six Big Men in total, but two of them got injured. So his starters are Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Paul George (replacing DeMarcus Cousins).

The Western captain, Stephen Curry, focused more on the guards and picked one big man less than his Eastern rival. His starting line-up includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, and Joel Embiid.

What is the difference between former centers and the current ones?

In the past, a center’s role was strictly determined. Old school centers had to be the good roll men with some defensive skills. They used to lead their teams in rebounds, blocks, and dunks. Most of them were huge and heavy-footed. They rarely tried their luck from the three-point line. One of them was Shaquille O’Neal, the seven-foot-one monster who is remembered for his backboard breaking dunks and enormous strength.

Following him on the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard, was the three times defensive MVP and he was showing his best center abilities while he was playing with James Harden. His amazing ability to finish alley-oops and perform standing dunks is the thing that singled him out from other of the league’s big men.

Nowadays, we can see a major change in the big men’s play styles.

They are getting more versatile and are encouraged to shoot more threes and dribble the ball more. New-generation centers are also getting quicker, more athletic, and flashy. The NBA slowly becomes positionless which means that all players are playing more all-around.

Unique big men of the present

Karl-Anthony Towns is an all-around type of center with 42 percent from the three-point line and 55 percent from the field.

He also has 12.1 rebounds per game. He stated that watching star players on YouTube helped him develop into the great player that he is.

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers looks like a throwback big man with his 7-foot length and 250 pounds. But his ball skills, shooting range, and nimble footwork reminiscent of Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon.

Nikola Jokic, also known as The Joker, is the Serbian magician who ranks 14th in the league in total touches. He is known for his extreme passing skills and vision. This type of center is hard to guard because of his play-make ability.