Summer Quandaries #16
Aug 16—45 Days to camp

Tall Is How High You Can Reach?

For some years I have felt that some cagers “played” taller than their height. People’s bodies are constructed differently. My brother and I are the same height when seated, but when we stand he’s nearly three inches taller—one of us has short legs! Some people have short necks, some taller heads. It stands to reason that a short neck, short headed person has his arms attached higher off the ground than a long necked/headed person of the same height. Throw in arm length and two players of the same height may differ by several inches how high they can reach. Which one reaches a rebound (blocks a shot or deflects a pass) is a combination of these factors, as well as jumping ability, speed of arm extension, timing, and positioning.

Players don’t always have time/room/freedom to jump so reach is perhaps the most consistent ingredient in contesting any given play. Height has long been the accepted metric on which players are compared. I would like to propose that standing reach, let’s call it effective height, is an important factor that outweighs height—after all not too many rebounds/blocks/shots/deflections are made with the top of one’s head.
Fortunately the anthropometric measurements made at the pre-draft combine now allow us to compare players with something other than the limited and notoriously inaccurate college game/athletic-department programs.

I have fretted over Harangody’s lack of height ever since he was drafted. It has driven me to do some comparisons which are presented below:

__player_____Ht w/o shoes____w/shoes__weight_wingspan_standing reach_no step vert_max vert
Shelden Williams__6’7.5”______6’8.5”___258____7’4.25”_____8’8”________29.0______33.5
DeJuan Blair____6’5.25”______6’6.5”___277____7’2”_______8’10.5”______26.0______33.0
Ryan Gomes____6’6.5”_______6’7.75”__248____7’2”_______8’10.5”______26.5______30.5
Brian Scalabrine_6’8.75”______6’10.25”_241____6’9.75”_____8’9.5”______27.0______30.5
Glen Davis_____6’7.75”______6’9”_____298____NA________NA________NA_______NA
Leon Powe_____NA
Tony Gaffney___6’7.75”_____6’8.75”___207____7’1.5” ______NA________NA_______NA
Avery Bradley___6’2”_______6’3.25”___180____6’7.25”_____8’2.5”______31.5_______37.5
DeShawn Sims__6’6.75”______NA_____230____7’0”________8’8.25”_____NA_______NA

In addition to several “comparables” that occurred to me for Luke, I have included available measures for the other new young players (Von Wafer, Semih Erden, Matt Janning not available) signed or invited to camp. It is too bad that Glen Davis seems to have skipped measurement day at the combine because I think filling in the NA’s might reveal part of the problem he has finishing around the basket.

I was interested in including Sims because I hoped he might be the power three Danny has sought ever since his hiring in 2003. Strange to see that Luke, while almost an inch shorter, has nearly two inches more standing reach. Shelden and Scal seemed apt comparisons but while they are taller than Harangody, neither can match his standing reach. In fact Williams seems to have a rather bizarre physical makeup—as tall as anyone in the PF group, a mammoth wingspan, and the shortest actual reach in the group. Now this is not a star-packed group but in the world of short power forwards, Luke looks to stand or fall on his desire, shooting, and work to improve rather than a complete lack of physical tools.

Lee Lauderdale 8/16/2010 05:04:00 PM Edit
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7 Responses so far.

  1. JR says:

    Nice topic. I've always felt standing reach was more important for NBA bigs than height. It's why a guy like Perkins is a legitimate center even though his height might make one think not. Actually its not just relevant for bigs. i would think a 6'3" shooting guard with long arms would be as good a defender (if not better) than a short armed 6'5" guy. People are way too obsessed with heights.

    Just a heads up, but I think some of your numbers might be mixed up as you have guys taller without shoes than with shoes, which would only be possible if they were measured in shoes in quicksand. ;) Also if Harangody is both shorter and has shorter arms than Williams, how can he have a higher standing reach?

  2. bballee says:

    Well JR, I've run through the heights again and don't see one taller w/o shoes--which did you mean?
    As to the height plus arms conundrum, I assume it has something to with the fact that arms are not attached to the top of the head--which is kind of the point of the article.
    All my data comes from DraftExpress profile pages or their yearly pre-draft combine measurements pages.

  3. JR says:

    For example you have Harangody at 6'6" w/shoes and 6'7.75" w/o shoes.
    Shelden you have listed 6’7.5” w/shoes and 6’8.5” without.

    Without looking it up at draftexpress, I'd assume you just switched the two lists. That the 1st number should be the without one. Either that or somehow it appears switched on safari and its correct on another browser.

    As I said I agree that standing height is more relevant than actual height for NBA players. Now I have this article to link as well. :)

  4. JR says:

    There's also the possibility that draft express has the numbers mixed up...

  5. bballee says:

    Thanks JR, had column heads reversed. I have inflamed rt wrist in wraps and typing the last three days has been excruciating.

  6. tb727 says:

    I am 6'2 3/4ths without shoes, which makes me a giant in shoes. In addition to this I have a 6'9 wingspan. I like talking about myself. Too bad I'm not in the NBA.

  7. JR says:

    TB you totally would be listed as 6'6" in the NBA and be considered a power 3.

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