Last week I was reading through the comment trails and I noticed a few comments about Gilbert Arenas’ height, or depending on your perspective lack thereof, for a NBA shooting guard. So I began to wonder how the tandem of Wall and Arenas measure up against other NBA backcourts.
Please note that the data was pulled from ESPN's NBA Depth Chart a little over a week ago and due to the continuing offseason moves the starters listed could have since changed.
- Only 13% of the teams have PGs that are 6’4" and above
- 87% of the starting backcourts have PGs that are 6’3" or less
- Opposite ends of the spectrum:
- Chris Paul (Hornets), TJ Ford (Pacers), Jameer Nelson (Magic), Aaron Brooks (Rockets), Jonny Flynn (Wolves) and DJ Augustin (Bobcats) are the shortest starting PGs at 6’0"
- Rodney Stuckey (Pistons) is the tallest starter at 6’5"
- 67% of the starting backcourts contain SGs who are 6’6" or greater
- 33% of the teams have starting SGs that are 6’5" or less
- Opposite ends of the spectrum:
- Eric Gordon (Clippers) and Monta Ellis (Warriors) are the smallest starting SGs at 6’3"
- Stephen Jackson (Bobcats) is currently the tallest starting SG at 6’8"
I also decided to look at the average height of the two starting guards to see what, if anything, this would indicate.
Combined Average Height:
- 80% of the teams in the NBA have a starting backcourt with a combined average height that is between 6’3" and 6’5"
- In fact, 57% (of the 80%) have a combined average height that is between 6’3" – 6’4"
- Only 10% of the starting backcourts have a combined average height equal to or greater than 6’5.5"
- Conversely, only 10% have a combined average height of less than or equal to 6’2.5"
- If we look quickly at the extremes:
- The shortest starting backcourts on average belong to New Orleans (6’2"), Memphis (6’2.5") and Miami (6’2.5")
- The tallest starting backcourts are Dallas (6’5.5"), Philadelphia (6’5.5") and Detroit (6’6")
There are clearly flaws with averaging the heights of the projected starting backcourts. However, it does make it easier to see that there are 3 (10%) teams that have, what I would define as a tall starting backcourt – a PG who is 6’4" or taller and a SG who is 6’6" or taller. Those teams are Dallas, Philadelphia and Detroit. Out of those three, only Dallas had a winning season last year.
Clearly there is much more that goes into being a successful team than the relative height of its starting backcourt. Let’s look at the final four teams in the NBA playoffs – Lakers, Celtics, Magic and Suns – none of which has the tallest backcourt on average. In fact, the Lakers, Magic and Celtics due to their relatively short starting PGs were actually on the bottom half of the distribution. However, I doubt that any of those teams are looking to dump their starting PG in order to improve the overall height of its backcourt.
The Wizards starting backcourt of Wall and Arenas is clearly tall enough that height alone will not be the determining factor of their success (or failure). More significant factors will be how those two play with and off of each other. Whether Gilbert, playing against two guards who are not as quick, actually improves defensively this season. Check that, whether he actually improves his defensive effort this season. How Gilbert fairs against taller SGs who will want to post him up? Whether he consistently contests shots? How hard he makes them work on the offensive end when they are now forced to guard him? There are likely 99 questions and his height ain’t one.