Often times NBA players are described as “undersized” or “out of position.” Analysts see these players as smaller than the average player at their position, and therefore at a disadvantage. However, this classification of players has a serious shortcoming. When it comes to playing basketball, the actual height of a player is not as important as one might think. Far more important are their standing reach and wingspan.
In this article I want to explain how to measure standing reach correctly. I have created a standing reach calculator designed to tell you your estimated standing reach depending on your height.
Standing reach measures how high someone can reach with their hands while standing flat-footed. It is an important measurement for basketball players because it determines how easily they can get off shots against a defender. A good standing reach is also very helpful on defense, as it allows to deter shots, deflect passes or make highlight blocks with greater ease.
To measure your standing reach, stand with your side to a wall and reach up as far as you can with the hand closer to the wall. Make sure your feet remain flat on the floor (otherwise you are falsely increasing your standing reach). If you are measuring the standing reach of others, as part of a vertical jump test, make sure the athlete is really reaching up as far as possible. An erroneously low standing reach would artificially inflate the vertical jump measurement.
Measuring standing reach is always the first step of measuring vertical jump using a Vertec or the Jump & Reach test. If the standing reach is known, vertical jump height can easily be calculated by subtracting the standing reach from the maximum jumping reach. You can also calculate how high you need to jump in order to dunk. Check out my dunk calculator to find out more.
As I mentioned earlier, basketball players are often judged by their height. But, is there a standard standing reach - height ratio?
On draftexpress.com there is a list of all available measurements of the NBA Pre Draft Combine. If we take all players who have their height as well as their standing reach listed, we get the following distribution of the ratio of standing reach / height:
Relationship between standing reach and height:
As we can see, almost 50% of the basketball players have a reach-to-height ratio of between 1.32 and 1.35. The median basketball player in the NBA Draft Combine has a standing reach about 1.335 times as long as their height. This means the average 6 ft tall basketball player should have a standing reach around 8 feet.
But, the graph also shows there are players with far longer arms than others. Two extreme examples are Luol Deng (who at 6'7" was measured with an 9' 0.5" standing reach) and Matt Barnes (6' 6.75" with a standing reach of only 8' 0.5"). That's a one foot difference in standing reach even though both players are basically the same height!
Granted, this could be explained by inaccurate measurements or an attempt to game the measurement of the vertical jump, but it still shows you can't just deduce standing reach from the height.
Knowing the relationship between standing reach and height we can also do some fun calculations! For example, we can calculate the average expected standing reach depending on your height. This way you can find out if you have comparably long or short arms.
Put in your height:
Your expected standing reach is:
If you know your standing reach, you can easily find out how your standing reach stacks up with the average professional basketball player. If it is significantly shorter, don't worry. NBA players probably have longer arms than the average population.
Unfortunately, there are no official measurements of all NBA players available. But, going from pre-draft measurements, we come to the following conclusions:
Current NBA player with the longest standing reach (as of March 2017) :
Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz has the longest standing reach with an incredible measurement of 9' 9".That's only 3 inches shy of the rim - no wonder he is leading the league in blocks per game!
Current NBA player with the shortest standing reach (as of March 2017) :
On the other end of the spectrum is Tyler Ullis. The rookie of the Phoenix Suns is only 5'9" tall and he doesn't have long arms either!
His standing reach of only 7' 4.75" is even a lot shorter than the 7' 7.5" standing reach of Isiah Thomas who is also only 5'9" tall.
Any questions about standing reach left? Leave your question in the comment section, I will answer them as soon as possible!