The NBA draft is approaching. Â Prepare for the cliches and buzzwords.
Tremendous. Â Upside. Â Potential.
You’ll hear that last one probably the most. Length. Why do we care about length? Â Well, extra length gives players advantages within a variety of basketball actions; deflections, live rebounds, and getting shots off requires extension above the opponent, to name a few.
Today’s post looks into the length of this year’s crop and who has notably long or short arms for their height. Â It would be amusing to think of it the other way around but we don’t. This guy has the arms of a 6’2″ guy but he’s 6’8″! Â He’s a giant!
Before we dig in, let me first say that Jonathan Givony’s Draft Express is our best friend and our valuable resource around draft time. Â You can get all sorts of historical player measurements there. Â I should also mention that they just started publishing advanced stats for college basketball. Â Amazing stuff happening at Draft Express.
Anyway, the first thing I did was calculate the proportional wingspan of a player relative to his height using the prospect measurements dating back to 2000. Â I used a regression to predict wingspan from player height (WITHOUT shoes on) with a sample of 916 NBA prospects.
Here we see a pretty strong linear relationship between player height and wingspan. Â Want to know what your NBA prospect wingspan should be? Take 98.5% of your height in inches and add about 5.5. Â My wingspan should be about 76 inches long.
Who has the longest go-go gadget arms of players that actually got drafted? Let’s take a look.
Oh my, the stars! Â Not a very inspiring list, eh? Jason Maxiell had the most “freakish” arms as he’s one of those guys who can touch his knees without bending over. Â Fingertip to fingertip, he is 10 inches longer than head to toe. Â All told, his wingspan is about six inches longer than we’d expect and proportional for a 6-9 guy. Â His extra wingspan is partly responsible for his rebounding rate we’d typically see from a center.
The rest of the list has some big time busts who may or may not have been overrated by their length. Â Saer Sene got drafted 10th overall, Fred Jones 14th overall, and Shelden Williams 5th. Â As we saw in Game 6, freakishly long arms cannot guarantee a successfully converted dunk in the biggest game of your life (right, Shelden?). Â Marvin Williams, the second overall pick in 2005, sits just outside this list as his wingspan was 4 inches longer than we’d expect.
Some other notable extra wingspans: LeBron +0.5″. Thabeet +0.6″. Â Durant +3.3″. Â Beaubois +4.0″.
Let’s head over to the short arm prospects or as I like to call them, the capital T’s (just look at a capital T). Â These guys have shorter arms than we’d expect given their height.
Martynas Andriuskevicius played only 9 minutes in his NBA career, way back in 2005 but he deserves a shot out here. Â His arms were over six inches shorter than we’d expect given his 7’1.25″ height. Â In reality, he has the wingspan of a 6’6″ guy. Â Yes, observant reader, Fred Jones has a longer wingspan than Marty Andy. Â For your information, he grabbed four rebounds in 9 minutes which translates to a crisp 17.8 rebounds per 40 mins. Â Sample size be damned.
We have some pure shooters (Redick, Kapono) as well as some truly undersized point guards (Maynor, Jordan). Â Redick relies on his hops more than most shooters since he wasn’t gifted with long arms. He got away with it in college but he’s taking threes at a much slower rate in the NBA, granted, for several different reasons. Â Perhaps one of them is that he has the arms of a 6-footer.
Some notable curbed wingspans: Jon Brockman -3.7″, Chris Kaman -4.1″, Stephen Curry -3.0″, Jared Dudley -3.2″
While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and pull up the go-go gadgets arms and T’s of this crop of 2010 prospects. Â First, the long arms:
And the T’s:
Looks like I’ve snooped out the market inefficiency that Coach K has been exploiting for years. Â Short armed scorers.
In the future, expect some application of these measurements to NBA production to test their significance in predicting professional success.