Unless you're the Denver Nuggets or the Philadelphia 76ers, it can often feel like the center position goes a bit overlooked in today's NBA. But when competitive NBA teams are needing to fill that spot for a playoff push, what do they look for? Is the primary focus on size and height, playmaking ability, or the player's shooting percentages? Or, on another hand, perhaps clubs look at things like a player's proneness to injuries, conditioning level, or general grit and ability to make winning plays as an avenue to find the best candidate.
Teams likely also consider draft class, age, and high-stakes NBA experience as well. In fact, there are likely even algorithms created by some data & analytics specialists that determine which players would be best to trade for. You remember the movie Moneyball, yeah? I imagine it like that, only the ball is bigger and it's played indoors.
Anyway, the player's price point of course comes into play as well, along with variables like the length of their contract, career trajectory, and more. Regardless of the approach used to sign the perfect Center, one question applies across the league anytime a new acquisition is even considered: “Are there any deal breakers?”
Call it an unspoken golden rule, or golden question in this instance. Many may think could be answered with simple observation, but in reality, it's capable of mutating into a loaded question that can derail a trade quicker than a three-second lane violation. Details of a player's game that may seem trivial can throw off an entire deal in seconds, even if the rest of that player's resume is perfect.
At first glace, Jakob Poeltl is the most tradeable center in the league
San Antonio Spurs Center Jakob Poeltl has been brought up in trade talks since well before last season's trade deadline, and we'll dive a bit more into the specifics of those talks. Before that, though, here's a quick three-minute elevator pitch for the big man donning the silver and black, which includes some pretty impressive selling points that sound quite well-rounded if you ask me.
Let's not forget that Poeltl was the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Standing at 7'1" in height and weighing 265 pounds, Poeltl has cat-like reflexes, moves his feet quickly down low, and averages double digits in points and rebounds. He isn’t old enough to be on the decline yet but isn't too young to contribute either. Some may even say he is entering his prime.
I'd argue that sounds marketable--promising even. And in the event that San Antonio wanted to put Jak on the trade block, his value might be right where it needs to be. The price would be right, based on what we've seen thus far.