After signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat had to look for relative bargains to fill out the rest of their team.
With Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin being two of the league's most dominating, athletic, and impressive players, it's easy to understand how crucial having a dependable big man can be to a team's success.
That being said, the Heat brought in Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier to form what many called a "three-headed monster" along with resident center Joel Anthony.
While Dampier's presence has been underwhelming, Ilgauskas (as proven in a game against the Knicks earlier this season in which he scored 14 first quarter points) can still score in bunches. His soft defense is made up for by the physical play of Anthony, whose wrath was also felt by Amar'e Stoudemire and the Knicks earlier this season.
The Celtics, who are becoming the more likely matchup for the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, have also mixed and matched when it comes to their center position, throwing injury-plagued former all-stars Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal into the fire. The team has also depended on Glen Davis since the trade of defensive-wall Kendrick Perkins.
Ironically enough, the Knicks have also formed their depth at center with a committee. Since the Carmelo Anthony trade (before which the Knicks had begun to roll with Wilson Chandler at the four and Amar'e Stoudemire at the five), the Knicks let Ronny Turiaf (when healthy), Shelden Williams, and Jared Jeffries run amuck at center.
Earlier in the season, Turiaf had represented the biggest burst of energy the Knicks have seen from a center, let alone any player (perhaps Nate Robinson rivals) in years, fighting for rebounds and swatting away blocked shots as he pumps up the crowd.
Williams is a very similar player, but perhaps better suited for the power forward position. Nevertheless, he played efficient defense against Dwight Howard in a win just weeks ago against the Magic, and can rebound as well. Furthermore, he has demonstrated the strongest jump shot out of the three big men.
Jeffries, who in his last stint as a Knick was recognized as a league leader in charges taken, has seemingly picked up right where he left off, playing suberb and smart defense. While his impact will never be felt by pure statistics, Jeffries has been filling a defensive void for the Knicks along the stretch.
With such a balanced committee of big man comes a question of who should start? Who is going to be the most productive and/or helpful right out the gate? Turiaf's energetic nature makes him the perfect spark plug off the bench, so then the choice becomes Williams or Jeffries. Both can do the job rather well, but my first instinct tells me to go with Jeffries and his defensive instincts to balance out the starting five, depending on the opponent's big men.
Nevertheless, when having Jeffries come off the bench, Coach D'Antoni has seemed to round out his minutes nicely, so either Williams or Jeffries taking the initial jump will suffice.
Regardless of who starts, it's rather interesting to come to the realization that although the Knicks' center position is represented by a more or less overnight formed trio, it can and should be able to contend with potential playoff opponents.