I have been wanting to write something up on the pre-draft measurements for a while now. The draft is usually the most entertaining part of the season for me; it even beats the playoffs, but that could change if we become competitive. The draft is one of the best ways to enhance a team's talent-to-cost ratio, which for teams trying to stay under the tax is the name of the game. I am also a big fan of the underdog and I'd love to see a team win the championship and stay under the luxury tax and for that to happen they have to be able to identifying talent well.
Signing players in the offseason is one way to add talent, but it is inherently challenging because of contract negotiations, it is much easier to just draft well. That's the main reason I wanted to compile some data on the draft. I decided to focus on pre-draft measurements because NBA players have some of the most extreme physical profiles in the world; the average person is as similar to an NBA player as a cat is to a cheetah.
There are a lot of measurements taken at the pre-draft camp to consider when evaluating prospects and it's hard to know which are important and further it is going to depend on the projected position of the player. I am starting with the simplest measurement: height for all players listed in DraftExpress's database that are ALSO still in the NBA. This was a small challenge because I am not much of a programmer, but I essentially pulled the NBA stats from Doug's Stats and looked for the names that were the same in DraftExpress's pre-draft measurement database. There are 246 players who have pre-draft measurements and are currently in the NBA. These measurements don't necessarily represent a player's current height, but show where the players were when they entered the NBA.
The goal when composing this data was to try and understand what makes a successful point guard, shooting guard, small forward, etc. We can't answer this question without understanding how much skill contributes, but we can start.
Height is probably the most easily related and so I thought it seemed like a good place to start. I am not making any judgement about its importance, just looking for good place to leap, since the data is complicated and I am hoping other posters will share their thoughts and help me sift through this problem.
How tall are most point guards, shooting guard, etc. when they enter the NBA?
I debated how to show to the data and I settled on a histogram to represent the data. I have 5 figures below all with the same axes for ease of comparison. The first shows the distribution of height measured for all players listed at point guard in the database. It's repeated for shooting guard, small forward, etc.
The average point guard is 6' 2.5"
The average shooting guard is 6' 5.5"
The average small forward is 6' 8"
The average power forward is 6' 9"
The average center is 6' 11.5"
What can we learn from the histogram? The mean (average), median, and range are all pretty informative.
The average and median heights
In general the average is very similar to the median for all wing players (+/- 0.2 "). Which more-or-less just means that for every player that's bigger than average, there's a player smaller than average. It's a little different for power forwards and centers, but I think it's a significant difference that's worth calling attention to (0.5" for power forwards and centers). Since the median is bigger than the average, that means there are more power forwards and centers bigger than average and that the average is low because of a few extra small players.
The difference between positions
Comparing the difference in the average height (or median height, same trend) between positions shows an interesting trend in forwards: small forwards and power forwards are not that different in terms of height.
The difference in average height between
point and shooting guard is 3.0",
shooting guard and small forward is 2.5",
power forward and center is 2.5",
but the difference in height between small forward and power forward is 1" (or 1.5" for the median), much less than the difference between other positions.
This may be due a greater demand for stretch forwards, but I think it's more likely explained by the success of small-bulky bowling ball power forwards (Blair, Boozer, Glen Davis, etc.)
The range of heights
The axes are the same for each figure above, so it's readily apparent that there is a greater range of heights in point guards than in other positions. However, there are also more measurement data for point guards than for any other position, so to try to correct for that, we can use the standard deviation of the height at each position. The standard deviation of the height data for each position is:
point guard 1.9"
shooting guard is 1.5"
small forward is 1.3"
power forward is 1.4"
Even after correcting for the additional data, point guards have the largest standard deviation in height. In terms of predicting a player's success in the NBA, this suggests to me that height is more important for other positions than it is for point guard, but not necessarily by much.
I'd like to slowly build on this and so my next post will probably contain information regarding weight and I'll look at the heights and weights of starters in the NBA.
If the post doesn't get too long I'll then see if there are any players that don't fit into their projected position based on height and weight.
Edit : I did not mention that I compiled a spreadsheet for 246 players,with their : pre-draft measurements, per game stats, position (as determined by “Doug’s Stats”), and theirshot makes / attempts locations from “NBA hotzones”. That’s a lot of data that needs to be dealt with in manageable chunks=, so this is just chunk 1.