Is Spurs Jakob Poeltl a top-ten center in the NBA today?

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Jakob Poeltl has not been playing like a top-ten center this season

Based on how he's played through the first quarter of the season, it's pretty hard to rank Jakob Poeltl among the ten best centers in the league. If we were having this discussion at the end of last season I think it's a different story. But right now he just hasn't been up to par with where his peers are.

The biggest thing hurting Poeltl's candidacy is his poorer performance on the defensive end of the floor. He's taken a step back in almost every conceivable defensive metric - blocks per game, blocks per 100 possessions, defensive win shares, defensive box plus-minus, and opponent shooting percentage. He's down from where he was last season in every single one. He's a defense-first center who's seen his defensive impact decline significantly from last season. That alone could be enough to remove him from the discussion.

It doesn't help that centers as a whole are having an impressive season - with players like Lauri Markkanen, Brook Lopez, and Anthony Davis having resurgent seasons while Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic continue to set astronomically high standards for the position.

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Right now I'd rank Poeltl somewhere between the 15th to 20th best player at his position, at least so far this season. Somewhere close to Clint Capela and Jonas Valanciunas. Do I think he can be better than that? Absolutely I do. But he and the Spurs are going to have a dramatic turnaround before we can start having a serious talk about ranking Poeltl among the ten best centers in the league.

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