The recent trend and narrative that ‘small ball’ is the way to win might be popular, but what we’re seeing in terms of actual results on the court would say otherwise. The last three champions have had plenty of size on the floor and the favorites to win the title this year all look to be putting out taller-than-average starting lineups.
The wonderful NBA Twitter mainstay Mark Schindler put together his expected starters list for every team in the league and using this list I decided to take a look at which teams were going to be trotting out the giants and which ones were taking ‘small ball’ to heart.
The table below is the average height (according to Basketball-Reference) for every NBA team’s expected starting lineup broken down into inches. And while the numbers might seem close, there is more than a three-inch difference between the highest and lowest teams.
When Giannis grew three inches, his game elevated from promising prospect to multiple-time MVP. In the NBA, a few inches can make a world of difference.
NBA Starting Lineups by Average Height 2021-22
|Rank||Team||Avg. Height (in)|
|T-5.||Los Angeles Lakers||79.4|
|T-8.||Los Angeles Clippers||79.2|
|T-12.||Golden State Warriors||78.8|
|17.||New York Knicks||78.6|
|T-18.||New Orleans Pelicans||78.4|
|T-18.||Oklahoma City Thunder||78.4|
|T-18.||San Antonio Spurs||78.4|
|T-27.||Portland Trail Blazers||77.6|
Which NBA Team has the Tallest Starting Lineup?
The Dallas Mavericks have the tallest starting lineup (80.4” average) in the NBA in 2021-22. Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz (77.2” average) have the shortest starting lineup. At the center of both of those teams is a towering center: Kristaps Porziņģis is actually the tallest starter in the league by three inches, coming in at a towering 7’3”. The Jazz style of play involves depending on 7’1” Rudy Gobert to bring the size while the Mavericks have size throughout the entire lineup.
Could that lack of size play a part in why the Jazz haven’t advanced further in the playoffs? That I’m not so sure on, but I am sure that size matters in the NBA, and those teams at the top have it in bunches.
In a league that is becoming full of shooters, having that length to challenge those shots is becoming more important than ever to go along with disrupting the passing lanes. Now to see if it’s a recipe for success again this season.