NBA center tier list: Where is Raptors big man Jakob Poeltl?

CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 26: Jakob Poeltl #19 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 26: Jakob Poeltl #19 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors may have as much of an affinity for Jakob Poeltl as any team in the league. They drafted him No. 9 overall, viewed him as a prized trade chip as they tried to acquire Kawhi Leonard, and reacquired him when many advised Toronto not to.

Poeltl was retained thanks to a four-year contract worth just under $80 million. The Raptors needed someone who could anchor their switchable scheme and block shots, and Poeltl proved to be more than adequate in that department. With impeccable finishing and passing, Poeltl fits this team like a glove.

Due to years of playing in relative anonymity on small-market teams and having his best seasons on Spurs squads that were rooted to the bottom of the standings, Poeltl has shown that his skills rival that of many great centers across the association.

The Raptors believe that Poeltl is a Top 10 center in this league. While that ranking could be a bit rich in the eyes of many, Poeltl might be higher up the power ranking of starting NBA centers than one would expect. How close to the Top 10 is the Austrian shot-blocker?

NBA center tier list: Where is Toronto Raptors big Jakob Poeltl?

Tier 7: Rookies/Replacement Level

30. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

29. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

28. Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks

27. Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards

Let me be clear. Wembanyama and Holmgren will both be much higher on this list when the season ends. They are both future All-Stars in the making, especially a player in Wembanyama who could be the most hyped NBA Draft prospect to arrive in the pros in the last 20 years.

Powell will need to beat out Maxi Kleber, but this race likely won’t produce a high-end starter until Dereck Lively II eventually overtakes them. Gafford could be in for a bigger role in Washington without Kristaps Porzingis, but his offensive game could still stand to improve.

Toronto Raptors: Jakob Poeltl far exceeds Mitchell Robinson.

Tier 6: Flawed, but serviceable

26. Mark Williams, Charlotte Hornets

25. Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons

24. Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

23. Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors

Both Williams and Duren put up solid seasons after being drafted right next to one another. While Williams stood out as a solid rim protector on a bad Charlotte team, Duren fended off some strong play from James Wiseman as he looks to be a long-term starter for Detroit.

Robinson and a multiple-time champion in Looney are extremely effective in their roles, but it stands to wonder just how expansive their games can become. Robinson has as much potential as anyone on this list, but his propensity for fouling could put a cap on his skills.