We’re now a week removed from the NBA Draft.
But the draft process annually brings about one peculiar piece of information as players are being evaluated — height measurements without shoes.
It’s something scores of fans don’t really understand and repeatedly have questioned the need for. That particular measurement has even made me scratch my head. Of course, it’s because players don’t ball without shoes. So why on earth would they be measured without them, and why, then, is it a relevant piece of information to share?
Soon after last week’s draft, I attempted to get find out the answer. I spoke with someone who understands the logic behind the NBA’s pre-draft testing and he told me the reason. It’s all about establishing a baseline.
Because players no longer wear Chuck Taylor’s, shoes can be deceiving. The soles of shoes vary in thickness and, therefore, can provide a false sense of how tall a player really is. So if everyone is measured both with and without shoes, it serves as a true indication of a player’s height.
Former Connecticut center Andre Drummond was the poster child among this year’s incoming crop for shoes super-sizing him. Without shoes, Drummond is 6-9 and three-quarters. With shoes, he measured at 6-11 and three-quarters. That’s a full two inch growth spurt. With those kinds of results, I, at 5-8, would gladly pay $125 a pop on Drummond’s shoes. Thunder first-round pick Perry Jones, on the other hand, grew just one inch — from 6-10 and a quarter to 6-11 and a quarter — when measured with shoes.
But with Drummond going ninth overall to Detroit, the Pistons are committing more than $2 million to Drummond in his rookie season alone. That’s way too much coin to be duped by a pair of sneakers. Height, of course, doesn’t mean a player can play. But it helps. And losing an inch to 1 1/2 inches just by changing kicks could negatively impact a player’s skills.
It’s really a simple concept and, in the end, just one of many research tools teams use, not a deciding factor on whom they will draft.
But the next time you hear of a player’s height without shoes, pay attention to it. And immediately listen up for his height in shoes.