Sunday, April 22, 2012

Are NBA players shrinking? Average height and weight down in 2012

Each season I delve into the average positional height and weight of NBA players. I select a random night with a bunch of games on the NBA schedule and then I look through the boxscores to identify the five players who played the most minutes for each team on that night. I prefer this method to analyze as opposed to just measuring the starting five for each team. You can call it the "Joel Przybilla" factor. As we all know - some starters may only play ten minutes per game, a la, Joel. So I dismiss the starting five as the best way to measure. 

Nellie, with the fish tie,
may have had Lucas at PF.
I also look past the Utopian idea of choosing from the "BEST" five on each team. Night-to-night, in the NBA, injuries, missed games due to personal reasons, suspensions, and new for 2012... "rest", force coaches to scramble. The resulting lineups are often the type that would make, master-lineup tinkerer, Don Nelson smile. Coaches improvise and players wind up playing in spots that most would not label their natural position. 

So the "one-random night" approach is my choice for this audit. ...Once we have the five-man group for each team - we place one player at each of the five positions (1. point guard, 2. shooting guard, 3. small forward, 4. power forward, and 5. center). (see table)

The purpose of this exercise is to identify league trends, confirm or deny any claims that the "league is getting smaller", etc... Also - I will eventually compare all 2012 NBA Draft prospects with the results here to help determine who actually has an "NBA body" for their position. 

Big Boris "ain't no" 235 lbs.
For the record - I am mostly interested in the weight. Unfortunately - all we have to go by are the "listed weights" provided by each NBA team. This is problematic due to outright lies about the real weight of some players. For instance, has Boris Diaw at 235 lbs, or the same weight as Kevin Durant. ...Right. 

I have always believed that height measurements are silly. Players should be measured by their standing reach. This is not soccer. Players are not using the tops of their heads to affect play. They use their extended arms in basketball. Shamefully, the NBA does not list the standing reach of each player. has an expanding database of standing reach measurements but for this project we will use the NBA official listed heights. 

What did we find in our audit of the 14 games on April 18, 2012? 

Dr. Shrinker aims at the NBA
I found that on this random, late-regular season night, the NBA, was indeed, relatively "smaller" than you might think. Perhaps Dr. Shrinker, the mad-scientist from the 1976 ABC children's television series - The Krofft SuperShow, has unleashed his "shrink-ray" on the NBA. 

The point guard position checked in with an average height of 6'1", and an average weight of 189 lbs. The player in our survey that most closely resembles that size is Memphis' Mike Conley Jr. (6'1", 185). The height range for point guards went from Isaiah Thomas at 5'9" to Greivis Vasquez at 6'6". The weight range included the low-end 165 lbs. for John Lucas III to rookie Charles Jenkins at 225 lbs. 

At shooting guard, the average size and weight equaled 6'4", 202 lbs. Washington's Jordan Crawford (6'4", 195) comes close to this average profile. Last season, the average size was 6'6", 211 lbs. So the size at the TWO spot has really gotten smaller. The range for SG's was interesting due to Paul Pierce logging minutes at the TWO on this night where Ray Allen was out of the lineup. The shortest SG's were 6'1" (Mo Williams, Jannero Pargo), while the tallest was Devin Ebanks at 6'9". The weight range for shooting guards went from 180 lbs. (Jrue Holiday, Jerome Dyson, Jason Terry), to Pierce at 235 lbs. 

The average size of the NBA small forward is shrinking too. With more teams running out "three-guard" line-ups, the THREE position came in with an average just a shade below 6'7". We will go ahead and "round up" since it was fractionally close. The average SF weight was 221 lbs. The closest to 6'7", 221 in our audit were DeMar DeRozan (6'7", 215), Kawhi Leonard (6'7", 225), Thabo Sefolosha (6'7" 215), and Jimmy Butler (6'7" 220). The smallest THREE-man on this night was Willie Green at 6'3", and the tallest was Austin Daye at 6'11". The weight range was 195 lbs. (Belinelli) to 260 lbs. (World Peace). 

Jamison seems small
for an "average sized" PF
Dr. Shrinker has also apparently used his evil laser on the power forward crop. Would you believe the average size is less than 6'9"? (The actual size is 6'8.9"). Okay - it is just a a hair under 6'9". (So again - we will round up.) The weight average is 236 lbs. Players who fit the average profile include Antawn Jamison and Kevin Durant? At power forward??? Traditionally - Jamison is thought of as an under-sized FOUR, and Durant is viewed as an over-sized THREE. But - like we said - coaches are experimenting, and Scott Brooks will, at times, play Durant as the the second BIG next to either, Ibaka, Collison, or Perkins.  

The range for power forwards went from 6'6" (Andre Iguodala), to 7'0" (Pau Gasol). 

Finally - we found that 6'10, 251 lbs. is the average size of a NBA center in 2012. Drew Gooden is 6'10", 250 - almost a perfect match. Three teams played guys that were 6'8" at Center (Ivan Johnson, Boris Diaw, Udonis Haslem). The tall end of the range was 7'1" (Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol). 

My conclusions? The NBA is shrinking, and-or, getting more fit. When I looked back to the same exercise I did last year - I found that this year, all five of the five positions trended smaller. (see below)

2012: PG: 6'1", 189. SG: 6'4", 202. SF: 6'7" 221. PF: 6'9" 236. C: 6'10" 251
2011: PG: 6'2", 190. SG: 6'6", 211. SF: 6'8" 224. PF: 6'10" 245 C: 6'11" 253

SEE OUR WORK. The whole table is here!


  1. i like the article, but the positions are screwed. Iggy a pf?

    1. Again, I know Iggy is not a PF. But on this given night - look at the five who played the most, and that's what he was.

  2. Dude. The listed positions are way off. Mo Williams, Jannero Pargo, and Jrue Holiday are PGs; Devin Ebanks, Kevin Durant, and Iggy are SFs; Willie Green and Marco Belinelli are SGs; and Austin Daye, MWP, and Ivan Johnson are PFs.

    1. Dude. Did you read the article? In Utopia - the positions you listed are mostly correct. But on this night, the five who played the most, were positioned according to who they played with. Example: when Mo Williams plays with CP3 - Mo is the TWO.

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