Monday, May 27, 2013

Average Draft Measurements for NBA Players

As the 2013 draft approaches, we'll see more and more commentary about why or why not certain players will make it in the league. One common standard on which to judge players is through physical measurements. If a power forward is measured at 6' 7" or even 6' 8" without shoes, for example, he is said to be too short for the position, but is that actually true?

With years of measurements from the NBA draft combine, there's now a plethora of information of NBA player beyond the typical team listed height, which are often inflated. Measurements included here are height without shoes, height with shoes, wingspan, and standing reach, as well as the height listed in basketball-reference. The average measurement for a position is based on minutes played -- if there's a 6' 10" player with 1000 minutes and a 6' 8" player with 500, the average is 6' 9.3" -- and the position used is from basketball-reference. That system for position is far from perfect, but no system is, especially since positions have become so fluid.

Results

The results are shown in the table below. Shifted measurements have minutes at each position balanced so they all have the same total amount (i.e. if centers have less minutes, some power forward minutes are moved there.) OLS regression was used to fill in the missing data where each set of measurements has two or three equations based on the available information (to predict standing reach, wingspan is valuable information, but if that's not available move on to the next equation.)

Average measurements
Position
Height without shoes
Height with shoes
B-ref listed height
Wingspan
Standing reach
PG
6’ 1.2”
6’ 2.3”
6’ 1.9”
6’ 5.3”
8’ 1.6”
SG
6’ 3.8”
6’ 5.0”
6’ 4.7”
6’ 7.9”
8’ 4.8”
SF
6’ 6.6”
6’ 7.9”
6’ 7.6”
6’ 11.0”
8’ 8.8”
PF
6’ 7.7”
6’ 8.9”
6’ 9.2”
7’ 1.1”
8’ 11.1”
C
6’ 9.8”
6’ 11.1”
6’ 10.8”
7’ 3.3”
9’ 1.7”

Position shifted average measurements
Position
Height without shoes
Height with shoes
B-ref listed height
Wingspan
Standing reach
PG
6’ 1.3”
6’ 2.4”
6’ 2.0”
6’ 5.4”
8’ 1.7”
SG
6’ 3.8”
6’ 5.0”
6’ 4.7”
6’ 7.9”
8’ 4.8”
SF
6’ 6.5”
6’ 7.8”
6’ 7.5”
6’ 10.8”
8’ 8.6”
PF
6’ 7.6”
6’ 8.8”
6’ 9.0”
7’ 1.0”
8’ 10.9”
C
6’ 9.6”
6’ 10.9”
6’ 10.7”
7’ 3.1”
9’ 1.4”

Not every player has a draft combine measurement, and for those regression equations were created to fill in the gaps. The results are only slightly different, but it is important to see if the results even change, and the equations can be used to estimate measurements of other players. One random find was that players close to seven-feet tall are no more likely to inflate their height than other players. I thought there'd be a whole number bias, but I suppose not.

Average measurements, missing data regressed
Position
Height without shoes
Wingspan
Standing reach
PG
6’ 1.1”
6’ 5.3”
8’ 1.2”
SG
6’ 3.8”
6’ 8.1”
8’ 4.8”
SF
6’ 6.5”
6’ 11,0”
8’ 8.7”
PF
6’ 7.9”
7’ 1.3”
8’ 11.2”
C
6’ 9.9”
7’ 3.2”
9’ 1.7”

Position shifted average measurements, missing data regressed
Position
Height without shoes
Wingspan
Standing reach
PG
6’ 1.2”
6’ 5.4”
8’ 1.3”
SG
6’ 3.8”
6’ 8.1”
8’ 4.8”
SF
6’ 6.4”
6’ 10.9”
8’ 8.5”
PF
6’ 7.8”
7’ 1.1”
8’ 11.0”
C
6’ 9.7”
7’ 3.0”
9’ 1.4”

Draft implications

When evaluating a player's size, looking at the average measure at each position makes it more of a fair game. Too often guys are derided for not being true centers, for instance, because they're not seven-feet tall, but that's the norm. Nerlens Noel is the top prospect in the draft, and some fear he's too small for a center. He was 6' 10" without shoes, almost perfectly average, with a slightly above average wingspan of 7' 3.75" and standing reach 9' 2". Although the weight is a concern in post defense, he's nearly the league average measurements for a center.

In the case of Trey Burke, measurements mean the difference between being taken second and sixth. Without shoes, he was a paltry 5' 11.75", sliding under the Mendoza line for NBA player height, but looking at his effective size -- you don't play basketball with the top of your head; you play it with your hands -- he's actually fine. Both his wingspan and standing reach are about average at 6' 5.5" and 8' 1.5", respectively.

For players who are undersized, Anthony Bennett is a shade under the averages for a power forward, from the measurements we have, and Cody Zeller's T-rex arms are a killer. His height was above average, 6' 10.75" without shoes and over 7' with them, but his wingspan was slightly below average for a small forward -- 6' 10.75", as having a wingspan the same as your height is actually rare for an NBA player. Consequently, his standing reach is below average for even a power forward at 8' 10". Speaking of short arms, Kelly Olynyk actually has a smaller wingspan than height without shoes -- 6' 9.75" to 6' 10.75", but at least his standing reach is 9'.

For some better news, Otto Porter is a big wing. His size is more similar to a power forward's -- a wingspan of 7' 1.5" and a standing reach of 8' 9.5", along with a height without shoes of 6' 7.5". If a team wants to go with a smallball lineup, you can definitely get away with Porter as the "four" there. Steven Adams appears to have good size for a center, as his standing reach is almost exactly average at 9' 1.5", and his wingspan is 7' 4.5". But it's Rudy Gorbert who steals the headlines. He has a Condor-like wingspan of 7' 8.5", largest in recorded draft combine history, and a standing reach of 9' 7", only bested by the Russian giant Pavel Podkolzine. He's also the only guy in the 2013 draft measured at over seven-feet without his shoes, which is actually rare. Athletically, he's not up to par, but strangely enough his speed and jumping measurements were very similar to Brendan Haywood's, who had a long career, and perhaps Gorbert can be the next Shawn Bradley -- and not the next Pavel Podkolzine.

As a last note, NBA projections typically use a player's listed height and ignore wingspan and standing reach because there's more data available that way. Looking at average measurements perhaps one can adjust a player's height based on his wingspan and standing reach to an effective height. For example, Cody Zeller's measurements are somewhere in between a SF and a PF, and the average listed height between those two positions is 6' 8.3", depending on whether or not you use shifted measurements. Using 6' 8" instead of his listed height of 7' could dramatically change his projected impact.

5 comments:

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  3. Doing some ratios, (and using your last chart), the wingspan to height ratio is 1.057 for the first 3 positions, and 1.066/1.065 for the last two respectively. SR ratio is 1.33 for the first three positions, 1.34 for the last two. Pretty consistent.

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  4. Amazing stats and figures like the way how writer described the whole thing in one article for more information check NBA Players of All time - funklist

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