Who's Better: Howard or Noah?

Stacking up the centers to determine the NBA's best man in the middle

Updated: March 13, 2014, 1:37 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

There is a growing debate about this year's choice for first-team All-NBA center, as Joakim Noah's reputation grows with each dive to the floor and triple-double on the stat sheet. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard is enjoying a banner first season in Houston. Howard had his five-year streak of first-team selections snapped last year, and he's looking to reclaim the crown this season.

It's been pointed out that, for Chicago, Noah's candidacy for first-team All-NBA goes beyond being a fun debate. There are possible cap and tax ramifications involved, so this is serious business for the Bulls.

Howard and Noah will clash at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday, making this a perfect time to compare the arsenals of two guys who play the center position extremely well but do so in wildly disparate manners.

Though five centers in the NBA are on pace to finish at least 12 wins above replacement, including Noah (13.1) and Howard (12.5), most would agree the two have distinguished themselves beyond the numbers. It's going to come down to the ultimate contrast between a prototypical power big man in Howard and one whose game is based on elite skill in Noah.

So who is the first-team All-NBA center? Who's better?