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Opposite ends of the wingspan spectrum showcased early at NBA Draft Combine

Brandon Clarke and Tacko Fall are surprises after the measurements were taken at the NBA Combine.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Gonzaga vs Texas Tech Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

There are those who think a player’s measurements have everything to do with his potential success in the NBA.

Fairly often, a player sees his draft stock, and hence his salary, rise and fall based on his wingspan measurements. A longer than expected wingspan can equal a higher draft slot, while a shorter wingspan can send him the other way.

Here are some measurements that came out yesterday, via Jonathan Givony.

What stands out there?

Brandon Clarke, the senior power forward for Gonzaga, had raised his draft profile all the way into Top-5 consideration after a crazy good March Madness. Just watch these highlights and drool over his athleticism and production.

Clarke profiles as a super-active power forward in the mold of a high end defender and one of the basketball-smartest players on any NBA floor. The soon-to-be 23 year old played two years at San Diego State before a year at Gonzaga skyrocketed him onto the national scene. At Gonzaga, Clarke put up about 17 points, 9 rebounds and blocked more than 3 shots per game. He made 70 percent of his shots inside the arc and didn’t take many threes at all.

Yet, he only measured with a 6’8.25” height and wingspan. That’s not NBA-life threatening, but the NBA is full of guys with 7’0”-plus wingspans and Clarke’s short span would make him smaller than most anyone on an NBA frontcourt. If you want him to be the rim protector next to Ayton, having just a 6’8” wingspan will make it harder for him to do that.

Comparing him to some Phoenix Suns, just in terms of length:

  • Devin Booker - 6’7” wingspan
  • De’Anthony Melton - 6’8” wingspan
  • T.J. Warren - 6’8” wingspan
  • Josh Jackson - 6’10” wingspan
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. - 7’3” wingspan
  • Mikal Bridges - 7’2” or 7’3” wingspan (this is an educated guess - he skipped measurements last year)
  • Deandre Ayton - 7’5” wingspan

When the Suns played Booker and Warren a lot on the wing, one of the notable shortcomings was their collective struggle at cutting off passing lanes, while the combo of Oubre and Bridges was much more effective. Some of that is talent, but some of that is simply wingspan.

I don’t want to overstate this, but I do worry that Clarke might not be as good in the NBA as he might have been with a longer wingspan.

On the other end of the wingspan measure, just take a look at Tacko Fall’s numbers!

The dude doesn’t move much better than Boban Marjanovic and is a LOT less skilled than Boban. He played all four years at tiny UCF, who made a little tourney run this spring. He did not improve much in four years — in fact, his sophomore stats are better than his senior stats.

But Fall has an astounding 8’2.25” wingspan and showed in college he can protect the rim with his size and presence better than most anyone.

Yes, Fall’s length will translate to the NBA very well, but his lack of fluid athleticism will hinder him even more than Boban. I’d be surprised if Fall ever averages more than 10 minutes per game in the league.

So, take wingspan with a grain of salt.

Fall and Clarke are possibly the most opposite rim protectors in the draft. It will be interesting to see how the wingspan of each player affects their final draft position.

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