Wings (spans) N’ Things: Analyzing the Pre-Draft Measurements

Wings (spans) N’ Things: Analyzing the Pre-Draft Measurements
Jun 16, 2006, 03:29 am
With the release of wingspans as well as with the release of standing reach, the true size of an NBA prospect can be broken down to the last inch. There were some surprise and astonishment when some players measured out very favorably while other players did not seem to possess the correct wingspan and/or standing reach to go with their height. The average person's wingspan is equal to his height without shoes; most athletes’ wingspans usually tend to be about 2 inches above their height with shoes on average.

Some wingspans served up quite a shock when released. Gerry McNamara only came up with a 6’¼” wingspan after measuring in at 5’11¾” w/o shoes. These measurements definitely were not favorable to him. Nor did Dan Grunfeld’s wingspan of 6’6¼” do him any good considering that he was measured at 6’6” with shoes on. While Nik Caner-Medley had a decent showing in Orlando, his 6’9” wingspan did not bode well with his 6’8” height with shoes on. Others who short-armed their expectations on wingspan included Jordan Farmar, Steve Novak, Brad Newley, and J.J. Redick. There is definitely a trend here, but the politically correct part of us prefers to ignore it.

Redick is probably the most noteworthy considering his lottery status. Brandon Roy for example will probably not suffer from having a 6’8” wingspan when measuring in at 6’5¼” without shoes on, but J.J. Redick on the other hand will. While he did measure at 6’4” without shoes, which was quite a surprise before the wingspans and standing reaches were released, his wingspan left much to be desired. At 6’3¼” Redick had the smallest arms in relation to height in camp. He was only person who measured out shorter on his wingspan than on his height without shoes. With his recent legal troubles coupled with questions about his back, this has not been a good week for the former Cave Spring star.

Other notable wingspans and standing reaches from potential lottery candidates included Senegal’s Saer Sene recording a resounding 7’8½” wingspan after measuring in at a legit 7 feet with shoes. That was easily the best mark in camp. Add that mark with the 9’5” standing reach that tied him with Patrick O’Bryant as the best standing reaches in camp, and this might have solidified both as worthy candidates to be the 1st center taken off the board.

Sticking with the international flavor, South Africa’s Frans Steyn surprised scouts by measuring out at 7’1¼” w/o shoes on and had a respectable 7’4¼” wingspan and 9’1” standing reach. Once considered off the radar and downright undraftable, Steyn turned heads in Orlando with his surprising mobility and has given himself a shot of being drafted or at least a serious invite to training camp. Not a bad turn of events considering he transferred out of Oklahoma to Southwest Baptist University because of lack of playing time.

For a big man, wingspan is important but so is standing reach because it helps a power forward/center to take the ball strong at the rim, rebound out of his area and to redirect drives to the basket. Standing reach is a very important trait for a big man to possess and to excel using.

With that being said, LaMarcus Aldridge has arrived. If there were any questions about Aldridge’s size and strength, he may have silenced those critics with his wingspan and reach. Aldridge’s 9’2” standing reach definitely is beneficial to him and his stock considering how he will be able to affect the game on defense. His wingspan of 7’4¾” may make the Toronto Raptors think twice when envisioning the effect on the game his physical attributes allow. Aldridge’s length makes him an extremely dangerous post player who is only going to get better with time when considering his outstanding frame and athletic ability. It is very hard to pass that up in a wide-open draft such as this one.

Speaking of hard to pass up, Patrick O’Bryant is trying to force his way into the top 5 of the draft with his measurements and potential. O’Bryant did not disappoint with the aforementioned 9’5” standing reach. What added to his allure was his 7’5¾” wingspan which was second to Sene. If there were any questions about his stature, he answered those with ease. He also has the bulk too as evidenced by his 250 lb frame. ESPN’s Chad Ford released a column a week ago about O’Bryant having the potential to be #1 overall and with his size; it may not sound as crazy as it did in January. The unreleased results of the psychological testing, which (hopefully) give teams a better idea of his overall passion and drive, might have as much of an effect on his stock that his measurements, though.

Other lottery bound players did help themselves as well with their length in the measurements. Rudy Gay is definitely one of them after recording a 7’3” wingspan to complement his 6’7” height w/o shoes on. Gay also had a standing reach of 8’11.2”, which is equally impressive. Combine these measurements with his athleticism and upside and teams may have no choice but to take a long look at him before they draft, whether they need him or not.

Ronnie Brewer had his stock rise in Orlando after measuring out what comes out to be 6’7”, 223. He also had a 6’11¼” wingspan to add to his versatility. His ability to play the 1-3 with ease has to have him and his camp looking to solidify him as a top 10 material.

Hilton Armstrong and Cedric Simmons are in an unofficial battle to see which PF/C goes off the board first. They are usually located around the same position on most draft boards and have similar tools that teams are looking for on the defensive side of the ball. The measurements did not distinguish either one of them as both came out with good measurements to add to their resumes. At 240 with a 7’4” wingspan and a 9’1” standing reach, Armstrong justified how and why he became the 3rd consecutive UCONN Husky to win the Big East Defensive P.O.Y Award. He is very long, is athletic enough to block and alter shots and has good timing and desire to play defense. Simmons is a bit smaller at 223 but has a slightly better wingspan (7’4¼”) and almost equal reach (9’½”). Both are locks in the 1st round but who will be picked ahead of the other will probably be determined on a particular teams’ need. Only being born 13 months apart, there isn’t as big of a discrepancy in age as you might initially think when comparing the raw sophomore with the almost equally raw senior.

Staying with the theme of battles and comparisons between different prospects in this draft, one has to look no further than the battle for #1 than to see Rudy Gay and Tyrus Thomas being entrenched in a battle for draft position. Here is the tale of the tape:

Tyrus Thomas. Vs. Rudy Gay
PlayerDate of BirthHeight w/out shoesHeight w/shoesWeightWingspanStanding Reach
Rudy Gay 8/17/19866' 7"6’ 8"2227'3"8'11.2"
Tyrus Thomas 8/17/19866' 7¼"6' 8¼”2177'3"9'

There isn’t much that separates these two players when it comes to measurements. They were even born on the same day. If teams are looking to separate them they would have to go to the game film. Each player brings something different to the table. Gay is more of a pure small forward, featuring beautiful shooting mechanics, terrific ability to finish around the basket and plenty of potential as a stat-stuffer on the defensive end thanks to his length and lateral quickness. Thomas is the more raw of the two, mostly used as a screen-setter and finisher in transition in college offensively, but known for his outstanding shot-blocking ability and rebounding skills that made him one of the more imposing power forwards in the country last year.

NBA teams evaluate much more than just the raw tools players showed in college and the measurements from the pre-draft camp, though. This is where extensive interviews and psychological testing will come in, as the conclusions drawn from the quantum leap Tyrus Thomas made from being an unknown high school player to a likely top 5 pick will have just as much of an impact on where he is picked when considering his upside and more importantly, his likelihood to achieve it.

Besides these prospects, there exists the battle for draft position between two of Washington’s own; Brandon Roy and Adam Morrison. Here is their tale of the tape:

Adam Morrison vs. Brandon Roy
PlayerDate of BirthHeight w/out shoesHeight w/shoesWeightWingspanStanding Reach
Adam Morrison 7/19/19846' 6½" 6' 7¾" 198 6'10" 8' 9"

Brandon Roy
7/23/19846' 5¼” 6' 6 ¼" 207 6'8" 8’ 5”

The battle of Washington is drawing closer and closer and there will not be a known winner until many years from now. The race has been growing for a couple of years now and many in the Northwest have already picked a side, especially when Morrison and Roy have gone head to head in college. Quick history: A couple of years' back Morrison’s team beat Washington with Adam pouring in 26 and 8rebs. Roy, known as the quintessential role player had not played in the game due to a previous injury but had scored 13pts in a loss to Gonzaga the year before. Morrison got the leg up on Roy this year when he dropped 43pts on Roy and UW’s heads this year. This came in a Gonzaga loss however. Roy did not play well and even fouled out after scoring 13pts, but came away with the win. Both went on a tear to win their respective conference P.O.Y. awards and now both are in a similar position in the draft.

Despite one being a junior and the other a senior, Morrison and Roy were ironically born just four days apart. Morrison is a 3 whereas Roy is more of a 1/2/3 due to his terrific ball-handling skills and overall feel of the game. Roy is the quintessential “Jack of All Trades” and is known as possibly the most complete player in this year’s draft. One should not expect Roy to take too many shots or force his own offense at the expense of his teammates. Morrison on the other hand excels at scoring and while he has other skills that he deplores such as rebounding or occasional passing, he is known for his ability to find ways to score, particularly in the half court set and off isolations from the top of the key.

Whoever is to be picked first will most likely depend on team need. Roy is said to be liked immensely by the somewhat local Trailblazers and a trade between the Lakers and Bulls may be in place to acquire his services. Morrison will probably not slip past the Bobcats, but the Trailblazers may try to trade up and get him. Morrison’s agents have stated that he will probably play at or around 220 so his current ‘workout weight’ of 198 should not be an issue. Roy measured up to his listed 6’5” height and more. At 6’6” he compares favorably to other NBA SG/SFs in terms of height and weight, and will be a legit mismatch threat handling the point in spurts. The two have a friendly and respectful rivalry between them and it will be fun to watch them go up against each other in the NBA.

Shorter than Advertised

Shorter than Advertised
Player Height Listed on School's Website Measured Height w/out Shoes Measured Height w/Shoes
Hilton Armstrong 6'11" 6' 9.5'' 6' 10.25"

Rodney Carney
6'7" 6’4.5”6' 5.75"

Carl Krauser
6'2" 5’11.75”6' 0.75"

Gerry McNamara
6'2" 5’11.75”6' 0.5"

These players jumped out because of how drastic of a fall they took. Each one of them could slip because of their discrepancy in height. Hilton Armstrong’s slide (if any) should not be drastic because he did not equip himself with the proper shoes (more on that later). Carney was the big shock because of how imposing he looked on television. Memphis played many games on national TV in the past couple of years from Gonzaga, Texas to Duke and UCLA. He looked all the 6’7” a collegian could look yet still came short. He also looked pretty gangly, but with a 6’10” wingspan didn’t make up for it quite as much as you might hope. Now the question may not be whether or not he is a perfect fit to play the 3 (Small Forward), but rather if he might be in line to alter his game a little to play the 2 (Shooting Guard). Krauser’s biggest strength is his heart and leadership but being listed at 6’2 at Pitt and now coming down to earth with a 6’1(5’11.75” w/o shoes) is probably going to officially place him in the undrafted category when considering his advanced age. His lack of great athleticism and speed at the PG position is now even more of an eyesore because of his height. McNamara is in the same boat. Coming from someone who watched McNamara battle in the Big East for 4 years, it was a shock to see how short he was. He and Hilton should have invested in better shoes though because they only gained .75 of an inch with their shoes on. The standard was 1.25 and they came up short and it could cost them. Literally, cost them.

Difference in Shoes

As stated earlier, there were some shoe malfunctions when it came to being weighed in. The standard height one should gain from their shoes is roughly an inch and a quarter or 1.25”. For some players, the shoes that they wore did not symbolically elevate them. Some players only gained .75” which in turn made their height in comparison to their school’s height seem a bit skewed. Take Cincinnati’s Eric Hicks for example. The Cincy website listed him at 6’6”. He came in at 6’4.75” w/o shoes and only managed to squeak out 6’5.5” with shoes. For him, a solid 6’6” would have probably looked better than the 6’ 5½ he just recorded. A future in Europe is almost certainly in his near future.

The same could be stated for Paul Miller. Now usually a 6’9” Forward with touch can find a home in the NBA with hard work and good luck. Wichita State had him listed at 6’10” and rightfully so. He decided to wear what appeared to be either flip-flops or shoes with no soles because he measured in at 6’8½” w/o shoes and only got to 6’9¼” with them on. He won’t be listed at 6’10” even though he should. This is great news depending on how heavily teams will consider this.

This brings me to another point about size and the perception of it. The difference an inch makes can be seen in obvious heights (being 6’ as opposed to 5’11”, being 7’ as opposed to 6’11”, etc) but in basketball one height that I believe changes perception is the difference between 6’9” and 6’10”. Once a player is 6’10” it seems as if they fit the bill to be a center or power forward. Look at Emeka Okafor and Dwight Howard of the 2004 Draft. They were seen as tweeners for the PF/C position until they measured out at 6’10” and 6’11” respectively. Paul Miller at 6’10” can be seen as a legit power forward with the ability to slide over to the center position on occasion. Miller at 6’9” is just a power forward without superior athleticism or power. On the other hand we find at Steve Novak at 6’10” (his listed height at Marquette) who was considered a possible tweener who wasn’t strong enough to play the 4. Novak at 6’9¼” is still the amazing shooter he always was, but the sell on him being a pure 3 might now be an easier one.

Kudos to those Who Stretched the Limits: (1½ gain)

James Augustine, Brad Buckman, Torin Francis, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Brandon Bowman, David Noel, Joah Tucker, Darius Washington Jr., Eric Williams, Justin Williams and Shawne Williams are those who reached the limit of an inch and a half with shoes on.

Wonderlic Shoes Award (1¾ gain)

In honor of the NFL Draft Combine, these players getting a whooping inch and three quarters on their height from their shoes included Daniel Horton, Yemi Nicholson and last year’s vet Steven Smith.

Williams’ Quadruplets

In a bit of an oddity, Eric, Justin, Shawne and Shelden Williams all measured in at 6’7 ¾” without shoes. You can’t make this stuff if you tried. Eric, Justin and Shawne all measured at 6’8 ¾” with shoes while Shelden came up short at 6’8 ½”; pun intended. What is odd is that Eric (also the heaviest player weighed at 285 pounds) has the same wingspan as Shelden (7’4 1/4), but has a standing reach that is 2 ½ inches longer.

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