90s| PGs | SGs | Cs | PFs |
In the early to mid 90s the center position was at its apex, nearly all 27 NBA teams had a quality starting center and usually one serviceable back-up. But by the late 1990s the position had crashed nearly to rock bottom. The greats who had once dominated had begun to decline and teams found out that they could start smaller and quicker guys to get an advantage over their aging dinosaur counterparts. But during their reign, some of the 1990s centers were amongst the greatest that ever played.
10. Elden Campbell
A solid but somewhat unknown commodity in the NBA world, Campbell was the Lakers center in the pre-Shaq days. After O’Neal’s arrival he was moved to power forward before being shipped off to Charlotte. He never was an all-star but was a consistent player who averaged around a double-double. He is however helped out by the decline of the center position in the late 90s, as he likely wouldn’t make the list in some decades.
9. Vlade Divac
A teammate of Campbell on the Lakers from 1991-96, Divac is one of the most successful European players to ever play in the NBA. His lone All-star appearance came in 2001 as a member of the Kings, but in the 90s he was considered a solid player who would give you what you needed. He averaged a double-double for three seasons and was a very underrated defender. His defense gets bad rap from the fact that he liked to flop a lot, which earned him the nickname floppy Divac.
A former #1 overall pick in 1986, Daugherty had an short-injury filled career . Daugherty did however make 5 all-star teams and was part of one of the most successful Cleveland Cavalier teams ever. In 1991 he averaged a career best 21 points and 11 rebounds, but the Cavs would lose to the Bulls in the Eastern Finals that year.
Smits, nicknamed the Dunking Dutchman, was a one time All-star in 1998 and was part of the Pacers team who made the NBA finals in 2000. Smits however was a solid all around player who never did one thing great, but did many things good. He was likely hurt because of lack of exposure in Indiana, but he maintained his loyalty to the Pacers and finished his career there.
6. Dikembe Mutombo
The first of what looks to be six hall-of-game centers to have played in the NBA. Mt Mutombo as he is sometimes called became one of only a few players ever to be an all-star their rookie year when he made the West’s squad in 1992. Mutombo would go on to make seven more all-star appearances and would be named Defensive Player of the Year a record four times in his career.
5. Alonzo Mourning
A seven time all-star, Zo has seen the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows while playing in the NBA. He won back to back DPOTY awards for Miami in 99 and 2000, only to see his career and life almost come to a tragic end due to a kidney aliment. Zo was always more of a defensive threat than an offensive one as he rarely averaged more than 20 points a game but he lead the NBA in blocks twice.
4. Patrick Ewing
The first ever lottery selection in the NBA, Ewing helped rejuvenate the New York Knicks. But not without some controversy, many claim to this day that the NBA rigged the lottery so the Knicks would win. Frozen envelopes to bent corners every conspiracy theorist has another conspiracy. Despite all that, Ewing still helped the Knicks make the NBA finals in 1994, and was a key role player on their return in 1999. He was an eleven time all-star and one time all-NBA player.
3. David Robinson
The admiral came to the Spurs two years after they drafted him #1 overall in 1987. Robinson came so late because he had to fulfill his obligations to the United States Navy. Once Robinson arrived however, things changed immediately for the Spurs. The Spurs quickly became one of the dominant teams in the west behind Robinson. Robinson was named NBA MVP in 1995. He also scored a Spurs franchise record 71 points to win the scoring title the last game of the season in 1994. Robinson was a scoring machine in the early 90s putting up nearly 30 points a game in 1994, but he was not a one dimensional offensive player either, in 1992 he was named NBA DPOTY. Robinson suffered a knee injury in 1997 that limited him to just six games, the following year he would help mentor Tim Duncan and two years after that both players captured their first NBA title. Robinson was also a 10 time all-star, 4 time All NBA player, and represented the United States in the Olympics in 1988, 1992 and 1996.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
One of the most forceful and egotistical players to ever play the game. Shaq used his massive size to devastating effect in the paint. He flirted with 30 points a game through much of the 90s, though he never did reach that plateau he did get close in 1999 with 29.7 points per outing. Shaq is a one time MVP, a 13 time All-star, and an eight time member of the All-NBA team.
1. Hakeem Olajuwon
The dream for Rockets fans everywhere, a horrible horrible nightmare for everyone else. Olajuwon terrorized the paint like few players ever have, it is arguable that only Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were more efficient in the paint than Hakeem; some even take it further and say Hakeem is the most terrorizing paint force ever. Unlike players like Shaq, Hakeem didn’t use brute force to accomplish his goals. He used a combination of quickness, finesse, power and strength to get things done. He was a two time DPOTY winner in 93 and 94, and the NBA’s MVP in 1994. He became only the second player ever to win MVP and DPOTY the same year, the other being Michael Jordan. Hakeem guided the Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in 94 and 95.