Basketball is a tall people sport, and even though we’ve seen some exceptions like Muggsy Bogues and Isaiah Thomas, this game has always been dominated by some giant fellas that would pretty much scare the living hell out of the fiercest guys in the world.
More than that, basketball was a game way more oriented towards the paint during the early going, making it even easier for the tallest guys on the court to dominate and impose their physique and presence as the go-to-guys on both ends of the court.
Over the course history, some big men have surged as dominant presences on any basketball court, either for their strength, their talent, or simply their court awareness to always gain and maintain position or anticipate the moves of their rivals.
And, even though the NBA has changed a lot and low post offense aren’t so popular nowadays, there are some big guys that would still dominate the league if they were in their prime, and we’ll name them below.
David Robinson was such a beast during his prime with the San Antonio Spurs, that he may be responsible for their early success during the first years of the Gregg Popovich era, completely dominating the paint even on an era of other strong centers.
His court awareness, his defensive touch, his speed and his strength would make him pretty much torch every other center in the league, averaging over 25 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as the San Antonio Spurs center.
The Houston Rockets are already a very impressive squad with Chris Paul leading the way and James Harden playing off the ball as one of the best offensive talents in the world, so could you just imagine what could’ve been if they’d also locked the paint with Hakeem Olajuwon?
Olajuwon was simply unstoppable and he already led the Rockets to a couple of rings, being the most gifted center this game has ever seen on both ends of the court. His feet movement are still emulated by modern centers and his ability to swat shots made him the league leader in that regard to this day, and he’d definitely average something like 25 points, 14 rebounds and 3 swats per contest.
Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant player every single time he stepped foot on a court, completely bullying his way to the paint making the most of his strong physique and his elite athleticism and basketball IQ, also being a very underrated passer and a standout defender.
And playing alongside Lonzo Ball nowadays considering how good the rookie has fared in the open court and pick and roll situations, they would create an unstoppable 1-2 punch for the Los Angeles Lakers, allowing Shaq to average over 30 points, 12 boards and 2 blocks per game nowadays.
Patrick Ewing is alongside Bernard King the best player in New York Knicks history, and most of that is due to his ability to completely carry his squad and fight for every single board and loose ball from the jump ball to the last second of the game.
Ewing was incredibly strong but had ballerina like movement, being as skilled as he was smart. Nowadays, playing alongside Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks would have the most versatile frontcourt in the entire league and they wouldn’t be tanking with Patrick averaging something like 23 points, 10 boards and 2.3 blocks per game.
And last but not least, we get a guy that’s often forgotten in the big men lists, a defensive standout and physical specimen called Alonzo Mourning. Mourning had an incredible feel to protect the rim and you wouldn’t get past him without paying the price for it, also being a very determined guy when he decided to attack the rim.
Mourning was incredibly skilled and one of the best defenders in the history of the game, and playing alongside Hassan Whiteside would create terrifying twin towers in Miami and provide Erik Spoelstra with the best defensive frontcourt in the Association, with Mourning averaging 18 points, 12 boards and 2.7 blocks per game.