Earlier this week, the gang here at ESPN.com took a poll on the greatest centers of all time. That look back in history was an interesting exercise, and one that I've received a ton of e-mails about. (If you're wondering about my rankings, I've tackled that under separate cover today in my blog.)
But perhaps an even more interesting discussion is to look ahead and see how our top 10 list in 2007 might appear entirely different 20 years from now, depending on the fate of several young big men currently working their way up the NBA food chain.
This is especially true since the back end of the list gets a bit soft. While the top six or seven spots are manned by all-time greats, our vote splintered greatly once we got down to the bottom three or four names. In fact, a whopping 21 different players received votes -- and of those, 12 had their votes come entirely as sixth place or lower.
That suggests there's an opening for some of today's big men to claim a spot at the back end of the top 10. I should point out that it's not particularly likely that any of them will break through into such an esteemed club; all of the players I mention below will have to show significant development and sustain it for several years to earn a mention.
However, since we've spent a lot of time over the past few years bemoaning the decline of the center, I thought it might be useful to point out just how many talented young big men we have in the game right now, and how there's at least a sliver of a chance that a couple of them could go down in history.
So without further ado, here's my list of the 10 active big men with the best chance to break into the all-time top 10 centers club if we revisited the subject two decades from now: