Position Breakdown: Centers

by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Managing Editor

With the 2014 NBA Draft almost upon us, Cavs.com continues our positional breakdown to get you ready for the big night.

Here are some of the big men who should have the biggest night of their young lives – including a rugged youngster who played in the NCAA title game as a freshman, a high-flyer from Switzerland, a potential superstar battling the injury bug, a muscular three-time Conference and Scholar Athlete champion and a massive Bosnian big man who enjoys agitating referees and fans.

With that in mind, here’s what the scouts have said about some of the top centers in this year’s Draft …

Clint Capela6-11, 222 – Born: May 18, 1994 – (Geneva, Switzerland) – International – Capela comes into the Draft as possibly the most naturally athletic pure center in the Draft – an explosive big man who plays above the rim and is a great finisher; he’s a better passer than might be expected; Capela doesn’t shy away from contact and is aggressive on both ends of the floor; he’s very good in transition, getting from coast-to-coast in a hurry; his shooting mechanics need to be rebuilt from scratch and he lacks a go-to move in the post; he’s quick on the defensive end, with good lateral movement, but is still raw, lacking good fundamentals; the biggest knock on Capela is his rawness and lack of basketball IQ – he can tend to look lost on the floor; there are some concerns about his strength around the basket, he was sometimes moved around by smaller opponents; he has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level, but needs to play smarter and hungrier and may require a red-shirt rookie season.

Joel Embiid7-0, 250 – Born: March 16, 1994 – (Yaounde, Cameroon) – College: Kansas – Embiid, if healthy, projects to be a monster on the defensive end as a pro; growing up playing soccer and volleyball, is an exceptionally fluid athlete for a man his size; ideal size for an NBA center – a true seven-footer with a 7-5 wingspan and an already-muscular 250-lb. frame that can still handle more bulk; he’s not timid about using his size, very difficult to move on the block; an aggressive weakside defender, he covers a ton of ground with his length and long strides; Embiid has very good scoring instincts and his offensive arsenal is still growing; he has excellent quickness and footwork and plays well both with his back to the basket and facing up; his offensive game already includes jump-hooks, drop-steps and turnaround jumpers; for a player his age (and with such limited experience) scouts are floored by his array of moves to get his shot, including ball and body fakes and even the renowned “Dream Shake”; Embiid also draws a ton of fouls and is a solid free throw shooter. Read Full Profile

Mitch McGary6-10, 266 – Born: June 6, 1992 – (Chesterton, IN) – College: Michigan – Not an elite athlete or an above-the-rim player, but he’s very crafty in the low block and around the rim; missed most of his sophomore season due to back ailments and a suspension, but helped guide Michigan to the NCAA title game as a freshman; he’s a very physical player who uses his size and strength well; has a high basketball IQ and can make plays for teammates – he's a willing passer in the post; has a great motor; McGary upped his free throw average 24 points from his freshman to his sophomore season; very efficient on offense, takes high percentage shots; he plays with passion and aggressiveness and can wear opponents out with his physicality; his work ethic and conditioning have been questioned, but he works hard on the court; he’s not known as an on-the-block scorer, but he has the potential to develop that part of his game.

Jusuf Nurkic6-11, 280 – Born: August 23, 1994 – (Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzgovina) – International – A below-the-rim big whose main strength is just that – his strength; the 19-year-old Nurkic is impossible to move under the basket; has a big body and he knows how to use it. But he also possesses excellent footwork with good lateral movement, and he has very quick hands – making him very effective in pick-and-roll situations; he knows how to carve out space in the block, although he doesn’t yet have a wide array of offensive tools to show off once he does; can hit a hook shot with either hand and is also a solid free throw shooter, a huge advantage seeing at how much he gets to the stripe; defensively, he’s still a work in progress; his aggressiveness is actually somewhat of a concern, Nurkic plays with energy and intensity almost to a fault but is extremely foul-prone and has a tendency to agitate referees and fans. Read Full Profile

Patric Young6-10, 247 – Born: February 1, 1992 – (Jacksonville, FL) – College: Florida – Very accomplished big man who helped Florida to three SEC championships and a Final Four appearance in 2014; he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior; Young is a physical specimen, built like an NFL tight end with a chiseled frame and a 7-1 ¾ wingspan; on the negative side physically, Young has a short standing-reach and small hands; Young has elite quickness, mobility, explosiveness and agility and is one of the best overall athletes in the Draft at any position; he has outstanding lateral quickness and runs the floor extremely well for a player his size, Young’s a high effort player with toughness to spare and was a great leader and off-the-floor guy – he was the SEC’s first three-time winner of the Scholar Athlete of the Year honor; never missed a game in his career, Young was only the second player in Florida history to appear in 150 games; problem with Young was that his game didn’t grow much over his four years in Gainesville; still has offensive limitations that need work.