67 years of Height evolution in the NBA – in depth research – A study by Dimitrije Curcic

I have come to know about Dimitrije, through my connection on Linkedin and he has been doing some good level research for RunRepeat a great organization.

Here is some great insight into some historical stuff from the NBA that Dimitrije has dug up and compiled into top level research.

Dimitrije Curcic

“You can’t teach height” –  Red Auerbach

In the game of basketball, especially in the NBA, where the game is played “above the rim”, one of the most important talents is height – out of two players who possess the identical skill set, the taller player has the advantage over the smaller one.

RunRepeat team decided to put height under the microscope. The initial goal and purpose of this research was the evolution of height throughout the NBA history. But what we have discovered is that height is a great tool to describe the evolution of the game.

Intrographic Height

The results of our research show that, even by using the most fundamental and basic statistical categories, when you add the evolution of height into the equation, you’ll be able to see how the game has changed over the years.

Our research results are divided into five sections – explore them and discover how the game evolved through the prism of height.

Key Conclusions

  • While the average height in the NBA has been revolving around 6’7” for the last 30 years, the league has witnessed some big changes in the way how height is distributed and utilized in the game.
  • Since 2011, after almost four decades, height/weight ratio is trending upwards – players are getting more agile and quicker to fit with the modern beyond-the-perimeter game.
  • There is a trending decrease in height difference between the positions – centers and point guards have never been closer in terms of height.
  • Numerical supremacy of players taller than 6’9” is finished after 3 decades – this is the era of 6’3”-to-6’9”-ers.
  • NBA big-men have experienced the biggest changes in the recent years, especially in shooting distribution.
  • From 2011/12 to 2017/18, NBA power forwards increased their per game 3PA by 327%.
  • Over the same period, 7-footers increased the share of 3-point shots in total FGA from 4,6% up to 21.3%.
  • Aside from the offensive rebounding, every statistical aspect covered in the research is heading towards the equal distribution among different height ranges.
  • In 2017/18 season, SFs and PFs averaged the same amount of assists for the first time in 5 decades.
  • Although declining in number, players taller than 6’9” are contributing with the most Win Shares in the league, and have significantly separated themselves from the rest over the past several seasons.
  • Rookie data more explicitly confirm the trends in height distribution.
  • Rookie big men have become significantly lighter in the past few years – designed to fit into the perimeter-oriented game.
  • International players in the NBA are taller (on average) than USA natives, from point guards to centers.
  • Foreign big-men had a big part in the evolution of the modern game.

You can find the full article here: https://runrepeat.com/height-evolution-in-the-nba 

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