Monday, July 7, 2014

Positional size in the NBA.

"Positional size" is often talked about by scouts, coaches, and media members. But what should we all be referring to exactly? As we have done in the past, we decided to update our look at the average height and weight at each position in the NBA. We used the 16 NBA Playoff teams from 2014 as our basis. NBA.com posts the five-man lineups that were used the most by any NBA team. We used those five-man lineups from the regular season for this audit. (see the chart here) ...It is worth noting that we used the NBA listed height and weight for each player. Some of the NBA.com listings seem dated. We doubt Marc Gasol is only 265 lbs. However, most of the listed measurements are close enough that for the purpose of this study it will have to do. 

The findings

If there is one fundamental basketball philosophy we believe in, it is that you need to be efficient at the power forward position. In these days of "stretch four" madness too many teams are losing overall efficiency, mostly on rebounding and on defense (reflected in poor DEFRTG) by having a "softer" four-man who can shoot face up jumpers and stretch the floor. Certainly on offense it is beneficial to create wide spaces for players to drive the ball or operate without a crowd. But seemingly lost too often in the hurry to find a power forward that can shoot (a "stretch four") is the physical presence, toughness, and rebounding ability that a "beast-four" brings to a team. 

With all the above said, we were very curious to see the results of the average height and weight of NBA Playoffs power forwards. The average size is 6'9" 245 lbs. David Lee is 6'9" 240 and David West is 6'9" 250, representing the closest to the average. The tallest PF is Dirk Nowitzki at 7'0". The shortest was Paul Pierce at 6'7". 

So how many of the 16 NBA Playoffs power forwards could be called "stretch fours"? We would say seven at maximum (Dirk, Pierce, Ibaka, McRoberts, LeBron, Terrence Jones, and Paul Millsap.) Among those seven, five are efficient relevant to the position. LeBron is LeBron. Dirk is an elite level scorer. Millsap has always been able to crash the boards. Ibaka is a great defender that blocks shots and is physical. Terrence Jones can play inside-out and he rebounds at a high-rate. 


McBob not efficient enough as PF
Conversely, Josh McRoberts and Paul Pierce, who are fine as small forwards, from an efficiency standpoint, really cost a team's overall efficiency when played at power forward in "stretch" mode. The other nine (more than half of the 16) NBA Playoffs PF's who you would not call "stretch fours" are an impressive group of players: Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, Zach Randolph, David West, David Lee, Carlos Boozer, LeMarcus Aldridge (he only shot 20% 3-pt FG in 2013-14), Amir Johnson, and Trevor Booker. 

So to recap, the power forward landscape as it stands among NBA Playoffs teams shows over half the NBA still plays in the "traditional" way. Among those seven teams who play a "stretch four", five have players who rebound, score or block shots well enough to be efficient. That leaves two teams, Brooklyn and Charlotte as the torchbearers for "success" playing with shooters at the four-spot who do not rebound at a high enough rate. Brooklyn won 44 games, Charlotte won 43. If a winning percentage between .520 and .540 is viewed as success in the NBA, by all means play the "strecth four" game at any cost. (That was sarcasm.) 

If you want to REALLY win, make sure your power forward is efficient first, then worry about the "stretch". (See our list of power-forward efficiency per-minute here.)

The average height of a NBA Playoffs lead point guard is 6'2", 189 lbs. The player that most closely fits that body type description is Mario Chalmers at 6'2" 190 lbs. The tallest PG in the study was Shaun Livingston at 6'7". The shortest was Chris Paul at 6'0". 

Shooting guards on average are 6'5" 211 lbs. Again, this is for NBA Playoffs teams only, looking at the five-man lineups that played the most total minutes in the regular season. Two players come very close to 6'5" 211. Bradley Beal is 6'5" 207 lbs., and Gerald Henderson is 6'5" 215 lbs. Outside the norm we find five guys that are listed at 6'7", comprising the tallest shooting guards among Playoffs teams. Those five are: Kyle Korver, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Thabo Sefolosha, and DeMar DeRozan. The shortest SG in the study was Darren Collison (6'0") who played alongside Chris Paul on the Clippers most used five-man lineup.

In our three separate NBA average height and weight studies we've done over the years it is obvious that the small forward position is getting bigger. The average SF is now is 6'8" 221 lbs. The players closest to that body description are Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier, both listed at 6'8" 220. Five players check in at 6'9" as the tallest SF's in the study (Mike Dunleavy Jr., Chandler Parsons, Paul George, Tayshaun Prince, and Kevin Durant). The shortest small forwards were Andre Iguodala, and Terrence Ross at 6'6". 

Finally, we found that the average Center size was 6'11" 254 lbs. Samuel Dalembert is listed at 6'11" 250 lbs, coming closest to the average measurement. The tallest in the study was Roy Hibbert at 7'2", while the shortest were the trio of 6'10" guys: Al Horford, Kendrick Perkins, and Al Jefferson. 



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