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This question was raised by one of my readers, and it was a good one. While large hand size has been a true asset for many NBA stars, will Jaylen Brown's relatively small hands prove to be a limiting factor in his performance and ceiling?


My quick answer to my question is, yes it will - but only slightly. After all, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis have thrived in the NBA with small hands. Both can not palm a basketball, and Davis' hands were measured at a 9-inch length and 8.5-inch width. How does Jaylen measure up? With an 8.75-inch length and 9-inch width - fairly close to The Brow's dimensions.

Which current players have the biggest mitts? Giannis Antetokounmpo is right up there with a 9.85" length and a humungous 12" (yes - one foot) width. How about The Claw, Kawhi Leonard. he comes in at 9.75" long and 11.25" wide. Where does Rajon Rondo, alias ET, come in? At only 6'1" in height, Rondo measures at 9.5" in length and 10" in width.

So just how important is hand size? If I remember correctly, former Celtic Charlie Scott once lamented that his hand size fell well below that of Julius Erving. The following via SI's Peter Garry:

Erving can one-hand a rebound even when the ball is caroming away from him. And unlike most other one-handed rebounders, he doesn't need to curl the ball into his wrist to control it. He simply plucks it out of the air like a tennis ball. The consensus among scouts is that if Erving can get so much as a couple of fingertips on the ball, he will control it. In fact, a new term, rebounding range, has been coined virtually in his honor. Most rebounders contend only for those missed shots that fall directly overhead, but Erving is considered to have a good chance at any ball within a three-or four-foot radius.

"I guess I consider my hands my best physical attribute," says Dr. J.

There you have it! "My best physical attribute" says Dr. J. Big mitts are a definite asset for any basketball player in virtually all parts of the game.


In my interview of Brian Scalabrine a few months ago, without comparing Jaylen to Michael Jordan, Scal did say parts of their games are similar. But many of Jordan's spectacular plays were helped immensely by the size of his hands - 9.75" long and 11.375" wide. That is an inch longer and well over two inches wider than Brown's measurements.

That extra length and width could mean the difference in blocking a shot, deflecting a pass, having better handles or snagging a one-handed rebound. But large hands really come into play in finishing at the rim (per SI's C. Amoabeng):

Some NBA greats like Michael Jordan and Julius Erving benefited from having huge hands. Obviously, it wasn’t the only reason these players were great but it was a huge advantage and probably why they were able to finish so well at the rim. Kobe Bryant recognized this advantage. When asked what he wished he could change about his game, his answer was his hands. He revealed he wished he had massive hands like Michael Jordan. Also, when Phil Jackson was asked who would win in a game of one-on-one between Jordan and Bryant, the Zen Master went with MJ. His main reason for picking MJ was simply because of the hand size advantage he enjoys over Kobe.

So while large paws give basketball players a distinct advantage, having smaller hands won't doom a guy to NBA serfdom. Durant and Davis are two great examples. Jaylen has the mind and physical tools to make it big in the NBA, perhaps to superstar level. He should eventually put his hand-print on the League. It may just not be quite as big as Jordan's.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC and Facebook

Photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Tom Lane 10/13/2018 02:07:00 PM Edit
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