The mantra of the best centre in the NBA can be split among four great big men.
Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert all have solid arguments to stake claim to the best-centre-in-the-league title.
Since there's no real clear cut winner in the argument, we decided to put our NBA.com Staff to the test. We threw four of our experts' names into a hat and allowed them to select the centre they wanted most out of the four big names.
Gilbert McGregor drew first overall, Carlan Gay second, Micah Adams third and Benyam Kidane fourth.
Let's see who they picked and why...
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Karl-Anthony Towns is off the board with the No. 1 pick.
Depending on what you value, you could argue that there really isn't a wrong choice here. And while that could be looked at as a positive, there was a little added pressure selecting first overall.
That being said, I confidently went with KAT.
For starters, he's averaging 26.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 blocks a quarter of the way through the season. Allow me to add with his just recently turned 24-years-old, Towns is the youngest of this group centres.
It's not just that he's putting up these numbers, either. It's how he's doing it.
Towns is shooting 51.6% from the field and 42.4% from deep, which is saying something considering the fact that he's taking 8.4 triples per game. That's impressive for anyone, but especially a centre.
In short: Karl-Anthony Towns does it all at a high level. Although he's missed two games this season, just five players have made more 3s and there are only four more players with more double-doubles.
I can't go against that.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): Joel Embiid.
This was my pick all along. I think Embiid is the best centre in the league, but I will acknowledge he hasn't been playing like it to start the season.
For me, when Embiid is at his best he's the most dominant centre in the NBA. The ability to score inside on virtually anyone, the footwork in the post. He even possesses the ability to step outside and knock down the triple, all while being a yearly Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
You can argue that Towns is a better offensive threat than Embiid, but on the defensive end, it's not even close. Gobert may be a more consistent defender than Embiid, but his offence comes nowhere close to what Embiid's is. You can certainly run an offence through Jokic, but can you trust him to have a closer's mentality in the dying seconds of a late game? Or better yet, can you trust that he'll be able to defend an opposing centre down the stretch of a close game?
Look, you truly can't go wrong with any one of the choices available. But out of the four candidates, I think Embiid has the best chance of being the go-to-guy on a championship team.
Again, he does come with his faults. I want to acknowledge that. But when he's on his game, he's simply the best.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Let the record say that I wanted to take Giannis Antetokounmpo because he's a centre and I don't care what anybody else says (let's not even get into Anthony Davis).
But I'll play along.
Given the remaining options, I'll ride with Nikola Jokic.
I know he's off to a slow start.
I know he's nowhere near the defender that Rudy Gobert is.
But he should have removed all doubt with that outrageous playoff run last season in which he averaged 25.1 points, 13.0 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game. That type of production more than offsets the difference between him and Gobert on the defensive end.
And for what it's worth, a Jokic-anchored Denver team currently ranks among the best in the NBA on the defensive end of the floor. I'm hoping that Jokic rounds into form after a slow start in time to course correct all of the nay-sayers who are now just casually forgetting that last year's postseason never happened.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): That leaves me with Rudy Gobert.
Jokes on you guys: Rudy Gobert is the best centre in the NBA.
As you guys said, none of the big men above come close to Gobert's impact on the defensive end. His ability to protect the paint, alter shots and anchor the defence is the foundation of the Jazz, which allows their perimeter players to play aggressively and gamble on defence with the ultimate 7-foot-1 insurance policy waiting at the rim.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year automatically makes the Jazz an elite defence and while he has his offensive limitations, Gobert's presence creates points for others, leveraging the lob threat to create space for his teammates in the paint and dragging help defenders towards the rim and off the perimeter.
In a pace and space, 3-point heavy league, Gobert leads the NBA in screen assists per game (7.7) and screen assist points (17.4). Combined with his offensive rebounding, his impact on the offensive end can't be measured in just his points per game.
Although when he does get buckets, he gets them efficiently, leading the league in field goal percentage (68%) on just 8.1 field goal attempts per game.
A big man that doesn't need the ball on offence and is still super effective, all while being the best defender in the league, Rudy Gobert is the guy.
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its clubs.