What Is Wingspan in Basketball?

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain attracts a crowd at the 1997 NBA All-Star game. Getty Images

If you stumbled upon this page, chances are you are wondering what wingspan is or why wingspan is so important to the game of basketball. Luckily, you have come to the right place! Keep reading for all of the information you will ever want regarding what wingspan is and its importance to the sport of basketball.

The Wingspan In Basketball

Wingspan is the term used to describe the length of a basketball player's arms and hands. The player stands straight with both arms fully extended out to his sides; the measure from fingertips to fingertips is his "wingspan."

A longer wingspan is a highly-prized commodity in basketball players -- longer arms allow players to "play taller" than they actually are, which is particularly helpful on defense -- blocking shots, rebounding, reaching into passing lanes for steals, etc.

Wingspan is one of the measurements taken at the NBA Predraft Camp each year, along with height (with and without shoes), weight, standing reach and body fat percentage. John Riek, a 7'2" center from Sudan, had the longest wingspan at the 2008 predraft camp, with a Boeing-esque 7 feet, 8.75 inches.

Why Is It So Important?

When it comes to the game of basketball, having a long wingspan can give you a huge advantage over your competition. A long wingspan increases a player's chance at getting blocked shots and rebounds because his or her arms will be so much longer than the opponent's. Likewise, having a long wingspan will make it much more difficult for the opponent to block your shot.

Players with a short wingspan are at a huge disadvantage due to all of the same reasons mentioned above.

Players With Long Wingspans

It should come as no surprise that some of the most talented players in basketball also have the longest wingspans. Some of those players include Dwight Howard who has a wingspan of 89 inches; Jerry West who had a wingspan of 81 inches; Kevin Durant who's wingspan measures 89 inches; Anthony Davis who has a 91 inch wingspan; Kawhi Leanord who has an 87-inch wingspan; Scottie Pippen who had an 87-inch wingspan; Alonzo Mourning who had a wingspan of 90 inches; Wilt Chamberlain had a huge wingspan, but reports vary anywhere from 92 inches to 100 inches.

As you can tell from the very short list above, having a long wingspan definitely plays a big role when it comes to having success in the NBA. Everybody knows tall people have a huge advantage in the sport of basketball, but having a long wingspan is arguably the biggest advantage anyone could have.