The sports science segment on sportscenter either yesterday or the day before had a very interesting topic and got me thinking about this. They looked at the two teams in the playoffs and talked about centers in the NBA. The average height of an NBA center today is right at 6'10". The average wingspan of an NBA center today is 7'2". The average vertical leap of an NBA center today is 32 inches. I can't remember the amount of cubic feet they said an average NBA center could cover, but it would be good to actually be able to post that information.
The comparison was made between the Lakers big men and the Celtics big men. They went on to talk about how the wingspan of these players and their vertical leap allowed them to cover this monstrous amount of cubic feet in the post. They also discussed that the average height of release for a jump shot in the NBA is 8 feet, and the average angle of shot is 40 degrees. They used Pau Gasol as an example. Due to his wing span and ability to jump, Pau Gasol, from 10 feet away, can change the angle of a shot by 7 degrees.
The hypothesis I'm going to throw at you guys is that it is more important for players to have great wingspan and above average athleticism than it is to have traditional size at their respective positoins, particularly in today's NBA. IMO, the game has changed. Behemoths like Shaquille O'Neal no longer rule the paint area in the NBA. Instead, the paint area is dominated more by traditionally undersized players like Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire. Traditionally sized guys like Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood are 20-25 minute per game players that make less of an impact than a guy like Al Horford.
I think this translates to other positions as well. Rajon Rondo is the best defensive point guard in the game and one of the top penetrating point guards in the NBA who shoots a very high percentage on his shots at the rim. His height is 6'1", which is probably average to below average for an NBA point guard. However, his wingspan is a whopping 6'9", his hands approximately 9" long and 10" broad. He has tremendous reach, and this may explain while he can play the passing lanes so well.
I feel like the Hawks need to take this into account when it comes to the draft. The weakest area on this team is it's perimeter defense. The Hawks are evaluating a lot of perimeter players in their pre draft evals, and if I were them, I would focus on the guys who have great length and athleticism rather than guys who have traditional size. Of the perimeter players the Hawks are looking at, Terrico White may have the best combo of the two. He's a shade under 6'4" in height, but his wingspan is 6'9", his no step vertical is 31.5 inches, and his one step vertical is 40 inches.
Which would you prefer? Traditional size, or the combination of length and athleticism on a player who does not have traditional size?