I read this statement by Morten Jensen over at realgm that Noah was the best center this side of Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. My first response mentally was "I'd rather have Noah than Ming.". Not so much because he's better, but because I don't believe Ming will ever have another healthy basketball season. That got me to thinking, what centers would you trade Joakim Noah for right now?
The list can get confusing depending on who you qualify as a center. A lot of PFs spend some time at center, and once you include those guys, Noah drops down fairly quickly. For guys who are pure centers though, here's the best guys outside of Noah:
Dwight Howard - okay, we'd obviously rather have him
Brook Lopez - I think you probably take Lopez over Noah. He's got a chance to have a much better offensive game, and he's still a very good rebounder/defender
Andrew Bogut - Would give more post scoring. He's still a solid
rebounder and a solid overall player. He's not giving you as much
athleticism, rebounding, or shot blocking though. He's also struggled
with health issues during his career. However, I can see the case for
Chris Kaman - Kaman is having a great season amid a bunch of Clipper losses, but he's always had health problems and never played consistently well.
Marc Gasol - Gives you good rebounding still, and a bit more post scoring.
Greg Oden - So far, Sam Bowie's ghost wishes he could do what Noah is doing, but he still might have a glimpse of the potential tag on him.
Now if you throw in:
Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani then you've got another group of guys who are PFs who play center occasionally you can compare to that are interesting. I'd probably take the first 3 over Noah, but it's interesting to ponder Tim Duncan who's career is coming to a close soon.
If we remove the hybrid guys, how many of the above are you trading Joakim Noah for right now? Howard and Lopez are the only guys I can answer yes to. There are other guys who are close, but I'm going to stick with Joakim over them.
I've long thought Noah could become a solid NBA center, but when I actually measure him against the competition even I'm surprised at how well he stacks up.
[edit - note to add.. . ]
I forgot about Andrew Bynum. I'd rather have Bynum than Noah as well even though his contract makes him awfully pricey.
[edit - apparently, it wasn't Mort who mentioned Yao/Howard, but someone with a similar looking avatar, woops, my bad!]