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NBA

The five best centres in the 2020 free agent class

Centres might not have as much value in today's NBA as they have in the past, but every team still needs a big who can hold down the paint, clean the glass, space the floor and/or put some pressure on opponents at the rim.

With that in mind, here are the best centres available in this year's free agent class.

1. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers

Age: 26

Status: Unrestricted

At 6-foot-7, Harrell doesn't have the size of a traditional centre, but he's developed into one of the league's best finishers around the rim. According to NBA.com, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only player in the league who has scored more baskets than Harrell in the restricted area this season. He generates the bulk of his scoring on cuts, rolls and putbacks, but Harrell has improved tremendously as a post-up scorer since last season. He's also made encouraging strides as a rim protector and provides some switchability at the centre position.

2. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers

Age: 26

Status: Player option

A walking double-double, Drummond has career averages of 14.5 points and 13.8 rebounds. He has led the league in rebounding four times in his 10-year career, peaking in 2017-18 with an average of 16.0 rebounds per game. While he hasn't made the leap some expected him to offensively, he's become a decent passer and a capable free throw shooter, draining 59.1 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe over the last three seasons. Drummond seems to be leaning towards picking up his $28.8 million player option for next season.

3. Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors

Age: 30

Status: Unrestricted

He's not the defender he once was, but Ibaka has peaked as a scorer this season. His 16.0 points per game prior to the season restart marked a new career high. He's done so efficiently, shooting 51.8 percent from the field and a career-best 39.8 percent from 3-point range. Now 30 years old, Ibaka could be looking for one more big pay day as one of the best centres available in unrestricted free agency. Any team that acquires him will also have the option of playing him at power forward in bigger lineups if his 3-point shooting holds.

4. Marc Gasol, Toronto Raptors

Age: 35

Status: Unrestricted

When healthy, Gasol is one of the best 3-point shooters and passers at his position and is still more than capable of anchoring an elite defence. It's no surprise that the Raptors have looked their best defensively this season with him on the court. The problem is he's dealt with two different injuries this season that limited him to only 36 games before the season restart. Coupled with his age, he might be better suited as a backup at this stage of his career or a reduced role as a starter, much like the one he currently has with the Raptors.

5. Aron Baynes, C

Age: 33

Status: Unrestricted

Baynes has dealt with injuries this season as well, but he's played some of the best basketball of his career in the games he has appeared in. Not only is he averaging career highs of 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds, he's turned himself into a legitimate stretch five. Prior to the season being suspended, Baynes was taking 4.0 3-pointers per game and making them at a 35.1 percent clip. In addition to 3-point shooting, Baynes is a brick wall of a screen setter and all-around solid defender.

Honourable mention

Christian Wood, Detroit Pistons (Unrestricted) - Wood became a different player when the Pistons traded Drummond at the trade deadline. Starting in place of the two-time All-Star, Wood averaged 22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game on 40.0 percent shooting from the perimeter.

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (Unrestricted) - Thompson and Drummond don't make much sense together in Cleveland, potentially paving the way for Thompson to sign elsewhere if Drummond picks up his player option this offseason. Lots of teams could use Thompson's rebounding and finishing around the basket.

Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (Unrestricted) - Whiteside is having a bounceback year with the Blazers, posting averages of 16.3 points and 14.2 rebounds while leading the league with 3.1 blocks per game prior to the season restart.

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers (Unrestricted) - Howard has shined in a backup role with the Lakers. He's made an impact with his defence, rebounding and finishing around the basket.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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