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Summer Quandaries #15
Aug 15—46 Days to camp

NBA a Tall Order

Being a bit under 6’, I have always bemoaned the striking advantage of height in basketball. In fact it seems to me to be the greatest natural advantage provided by any physical asset in any sport. O.K., I’ll allow that smaller folk have a leg up in horse racing and a rotund figure is a natural as a human cannonball, but I’ll stick by my claim. From the beginning of Ainge’s remodeling of the Celtics, he has labored under the handicaps of a lack of tradable assets, mid-to-late round draft picks, and a perhaps understandable reluctance of other clubs to deal with the team for which Auerbach had fleeced so many over the years. Consequently Danny has always been shopping from the discounted merchandise rack.

The truth is that after the top three to five picks in the draft, you are usually sorting through flawed, or at least undeveloped players. Danny has made, I believe, a conscious decision to go for either very young undeveloped players or if flawed, undersized. The upshot is that the Ainge-era Celtics have typically been well stocked with highschoolers (when they were legal) and undersized power forwards, shooting guards, and centers.
In 2005 I addressed this issue as follows:

Both Google and ask.com failed me in coming up with average heights for NBA positions, so I am going with what I consider to be a reasonable guess (although an inch taller at each position is probable). Celtics are undersized generally.
Position Avg Ht Starter____Backup___Other
__PG__6’3”___DW-6’4”__ST-6’0”___RR-6’1”
__SG__6’5”___PP-6’6”___TA-6’4”___GG-6’8”__AR-6’2”
__SF__6’7”___WS-6’7”__
__PF__6’9”___RG-6’7”__AJ-6’10”___Powe-6’8__BS-6’9”
___C__6’11”__KP-6’10”_TR-6’10”___DJ-6’11”

My most recent effort to search the web turned up this report (without a source cited) for 2008:
http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=263
Center: 6'11", 253
Power forward: 6'9", 238
Small forward: 6'7", 220
Shooting guard: 6'5", 207
Point guard: 6'1", 187
These are average sizes for all players who have appeared in a game this [2007-08] season according to their listed primary position.”
Note that these averages include all players. I think it probable that the average for starters is somewhat higher. Now take a look at the roster thus far:
Position Avg Ht Starter____Backup___Other
__PG__6’1”___RR-6’1”__NR-5’9”___OL-6’2”
__SG__6’5”___ RA-6’5”__VW-6’5___AB-6’2”
__SF__6’7”___ PP-6’7”__MD-6’6”___TG-6’8”
__PF__6’9”___KG-6’11”__GD-6’9”___LH-6’7
___C__6’11”__JO-6’11”__SO-7’1”___SE-6’11”__KP-6’10”

Certainly better numbers than in 2006.  Tomorrow a look at why height may not be the best measure.

Lee Lauderdale 8/15/2010 11:31:00 PM Edit
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One Response so far.

  1. tb727 says:

    Interesting analysis- you also might have to take into consideration player's actual height. For example Glen Davis isn't 6'9 just like Sebastian Telfair isn't 6'0...

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