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Prototypical Size vs Reality in the NBA - Pinwheel Empire
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Prototypical Size vs Reality in the NBA

submitted 2 years ago by in NBA

Size is a subject of much scrutiny in the NBA. It seems to be something you just have or you don’t (or in some cases, you have too much of) and once you’re labelled as small, short or overweight, it’s hard to shake. Generally size refers just to a players height and weight, with other concepts such as length and athleticism often given near equal importance but defined using different parameters. One area in which size is considered particularly important is in the draft, as a tool to help understand which draft prospects can translate their college production to the NBA .

Having size is of such great importance to college players looking to enter the NBA because having above average or even just so-called prototypical size for your likely NBA position will often lead to concerns over production, character and skill being ignored or at least somewhat overlooked. On the flip side, being an undersized prospect often-times means that production slips into the background, mired in questions of whether what was done on-court in college will be translatable.

I love analysing the draft and am obsessed with the skill, production and physical tools nexus that forms the basis of a player’s standing as a prospect. As a result I thought I’d investigate what prototypical size in the NBA really is by breaking down average height and weight by position, what was most common and what range existed. I originally did this just to have my own reference for this and future drafts but I thought I’d share, for anyone who shares my particular fascination.

 

 

I looked at the primary starter and backup across all NBA teams and broke down what I found both in basketball’s traditional five positions and by the growingly popular points, wings and bigs definition. I took injuries into account as well, for example using Varejao as Cleveland’s starting C rather than another player who stepped in to fill the gap. As a result there is some subjectivity to the players included but in reality it just avoided having temporary, out-of-position fill ins included over the usual starters. I used 82games’ production by position charts to decide on the location of any player who could be considered positionally ambiguous.

 

Point Guards

Starters

Average Height: 6’2″
Most Common Height: 6’3″
Shortest: 5’9″ (Isaiah Thomas)
Tallest: 6’4″ (Several)
Range: 7″

Average Weight: 189 lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 180-185lbs
Lightest: 160lbs (Darren Collison)
Heaviest: ∞ (Raymond Felton)
Range: 51lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’2.25″
Most Common Height: 6’3″
Shortest: 5’9″ (Nate Rob)
Tallest: 6’7″ (Shaun Livingston)
Range: 10″

Average Weight: 191 lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 175-180lbs
Lightest: 172lbs (Steve Blake)
Heaviest: 215 (Gilbert Arenas)
Range: 43lbs

 

Shooting Guards

Starters

Average Height: 6’5.25″
Most Common Height: 6’5″
Shortest: 6’2″ (Luke Ridnour)
Tallest: 6’8″ (Paul George, Gordon Hayward)
Range: 6″

Average Weight: 209lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 210-215lbs
Lightest: 185lbs (Monta, KMart)
Heaviest: 240lbs (Joe Johnson)
Range: 55lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’4.5″
Most Common Height: 6’4″
Shortest: 6’1″ (Mo Williams)
Tallest: 6’8″ (Mike Miller)
Range: 7″

Average Weight: 203 lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 200-205lbs
Lightest: 180lbs (Avery Bradley, JET)
Heaviest: 227lbs (Ronnie Brewer)
Range: 47lbs

 

Small Forwards

Starters

Average Height: 6’7.75″
Most Common Height: 6’7″/6’8″ (Tied)
Shortest: 6’6″ (Several)
Tallest: 6’10″ (Hedo, Gallo)
Range: 4″

Average Weight: 225lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 225-230lbs
Lightest: 205lbs (Dorell Wright)
Heaviest: 260lbs (Metta)
Range: 55lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’7.75″
Most Common Height: 6’6″
Shortest: 6’6″ (Several)
Tallest: 6’11″ (Austin Daye)
Range: 5″

Average Weight: 221lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 225-230lbs
Lightest: 188lbs (Corey Brewer)
Heaviest: 235lbs (Sasha Pavlovic)
Range: 47lbs

 

Power Forwards

Starters

Average Height: 6’9.5″
Most Common Height: 6’9″
Shortest: 6’7″ (Jason Maxiell, DeJuan Blair)
Tallest: 7’0″ (Dirk, Pau)
Range: 5″

Average Weight: 246lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 240-250lbs (240-245lbs/245-250lbs tied)
Lightest: 210lbs (Amir Johnson)
Heaviest: 275lbs (Kevin Seraphin)
Range: 65lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’9.25″
Most Common Height: 6’9″
Shortest: 6’8″ (Several)
Tallest: 6’11″ (Troy Murphy, Donte Greene)
Range: 3″

Average Weight: 237lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 230-240lbs (230-235lbs/235-240lbs tied)
Lightest: 210lbs (Brandan Wright)
Heaviest: 255lbs (Nick Collison)
Range:45lbs

 

Centers

Starters

Average Height: 6’11.25″
Most Common Height: 6’11″
Shortest: 6’9″ (Bismack, Joel Anthony)
Tallest: 7’2″ (Roy Hibbert
Range: 5″

Average Weight:257lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 250-255lbs
Lightest: 232lbs (Joakim Noah)
Heaviest: 290lbs (Pek)
Range:58lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’10.5″
Most Common Height: 7’0″
Shortest: 6’6″ (Chuck Hayes)
Tallest: 7’0″ (Several)
Range: 6″

Average Weight: 251lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 240-245lbs
Lightest: 230lbs (Ian Mahinmi, Kurt Thomas)
Heaviest: 289lbs (Big Baby)
Range:59lbs

 

Wings

Starters

Average Height: 6’6.5″
Most Common Height: 6’7″
Range: 10″

Average Weight: 217lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 225-230lbs
Range: 85lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’6″
Most Common Height: 6’6″
Range: 10″

Average Weight: 212lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 200-205lbs
Range: 55

 

Bigs

Starters

Average Height: 6’10.5″
Most Common Height: 6’11″
Range: 7″

Average Weight: 251lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 250-255lbs
Range: 80lbs

Backups

Average Height: 6’10″
Most Common Height: 6’9″/6’10″ (Tied)
Range: 6″

Average Weight: 244lbs
Most Common Weight Range: 240-245lbs
Range: 79lbs

 

The results aren’t particularly surprising for the most part. The old 6’4″/6’6″/6’8″/6’10″/7’0″ rule of thumb for height by position works for most positions, with guards being the only group who are significantly shorter than those guidelines would suggest they should be. Guards also have the biggest variance in height, which would be expected given that there are usually a couple of 5’9″ types in the league at any time. With the group currently in the league, a new rule of thumb with the expectation at each position being an inch less than above would get you pretty close to reality, of not what is considered prototypical height.

The same goes for the weight results; PGs in the 190 range, SGs around 205 , SFs 225, PFs 240 and Cs 250. Backup’s at all positions but PG are around 5-10lbs lighter than the average starter, with the biggest gap coming at PF. The range between the lightest and heaviest at each position is around 50lbs (give or take 10) for all except the starting PF bunch too. This could be attributed to the fact that the PF position has a lot of flexibility, with low post bangers and sweet shooting 7 footers sharing the same title.

 

 

By the new school definition of positions, an average wing is between 6’6″ to 6’7″ and bigs somewhere between 6’10″ and 6’11″, which wouldn’t be far off expectation. Weight hovers around 215lbs for wings, with there being a wide and even spread of weight right from around 200 through to 230lbs. The weight variance between PFs and Cs isn’t as large as between SGs and SFs, so the weight results for the bigs largely mirror those for the individual positions – starters slightly taller and heavier than backups, but not greatly so.

If we broadly define undersized and oversized (funny how we rarely hear that term used) as anything outside one standard deviation of the mean, that gives us approximately 1.5 inches either side of average for height (with a slightly narrower range for forwards than for guards or centers) and around 15lbs either side for weight. Taking this into account, this would be the range around average height and weight which should be considered, to me, normal.

PG: 6’0.5″ – 6’3.5″ / 175 – 205lbs
SG: 6’4″ – 6’7″ / 195 – 220lbs
SF: 6’6″ – 6’9″ /  210 – 240lbs
PF:  6’8″ – 6’11″ / 225 – 255lbs
C: 6’10″ – 7’1″ / 240lbs – 270lbs

The number of draftees I’ve seen labelled as undersized who fit within that range would be more than I can count on all my fingers and toes. Considering I’ve only followed the draft closely for five years (since 07) and have found it to be this prevalent, it’s starting to become a pet peeve of mine. Rather working off an old rule of thumb for prototypical size and labelling anyone an inch shorter or 10lbs lighter undersized, wouldn’t working off what is currently typical in the NBA provide a better basis for understanding how well a prospect will be able to translate his production and skills? I certainly think so and believe it would be fairer to college players entering the draft, for whom every inch can mean millions gained or lost.

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