Indiana Pacers: 10 best centers in franchise history

Indiana Pacers -(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers -(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Indiana Pacers, Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Herb Williams

Herb Williams played from his early 20s until he was 40, an extremely lengthy and well established NBA career. Though he would play with the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and Toronto Raptors, Williams had his best days with the Indiana Pacers.

A first-round draft pick for the Pacers, Williams was an immediate starter in 1982. The team at this point had been devoid of strong talent for some time, having to sell it off in order to pay league dues when they joined the NBA just years earlier.

The Pacers had just made the playoffs for the first time in five years the season before, but would go on another five-year run without qualifying for the postseason, making the playoffs and being booted in the first round just one time while Williams was with the Pacers.

No matter, Williams was still an extremely productive player for the Pacers despite the lack of winning.

By his sophomore season, he was averaging 16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game. Over the course of his career with the team, he averaged 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game.

In his post-playing career, Williams served as interim head coach of the New York Knicks and worked under Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas as an assistant coach.

Domantas Sabonis

Domantas Sabonis coming in at eight on this list should not be viewed as a slight to his accomplishments. Sabonis, having made his first All-Star game in 2020 and being the Pacers leading scorer, rebounder and second man in assists says a lot.

He’s making the Pacers look brilliant for the contract extension they signed him to prior to this season kicking off.

The reason Sabonis slides so far down this ranking is due to his short tenure with the team thus far.

In just his third season, he shows the signs of being able to take over as the top big man — even some Pacers legends have said he’s their favorite player — in just a short period of time, but we need to see him hold up this level of play as a starting-caliber player for several seasons in the blue and gold before we can justify moving him into the top five.

So far, Sabonis is averaging 14.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks per game. He’s already tallied 19.9 win shares in just three years, largely helped by being on some highly competitive Pacers teams.

In 2020 so far, he’s averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. He’s been a force with the likes of Myles Turner in the starting frontcourt in the first year of them being paired together as starters.

Sabonis needs to work on his defense, but the fixings of him becoming an offensive centerpiece for the team are there, much akin to that of Nikola Jokic.

We’ll see how he continues, but so far so good for Sabonis in Indiana.