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Contextualizing Austin Daye’s lack of heftiness

Austin Daye is too small to play power forward. You don’t need a fancy graph to know that.

But just how undersized is he?

Daye’s official bio lists him at 200 pounds, but in a recent mailbag, Keith Langlois said Daye weighs 209 pounds now. I’ll give Daye the benefit of the doubt, but it doesn’t make much difference.

Starting power forwards

Compared to other starting power forwards, Daye weighs far less. In fact, there’s as much of a difference between Daye and the next-light starting power forwards (Rashard Lewis and Lamar Odom) as there is between Lewis/Odom and Blake Griffin.

For the visually inclined:

image Click for full size

But pure weight might not be the best measure. Daye is 6-foot-11, so his 209 pounds are pretty spread out. That makes it even more likely Daye gets outmuscled by opponents. Let’s look at his relative pounds per inch:

image Click for full size

No matter how you slice it, as long as he remains Detroit’s starting power forward (which I can’t imagine will be much longer), Daye will be overmatched every night. Not most nights. Every night.

Starting small forwards

There are plenty of fans who want to trade Tayshaun Prince, so Daye can start at small forward. Obviously, this would make Daye less overmatched, but overmatched nonetheless.

In terms of weight:

image Click for full size

And in terms of pounds per inch:

image Click for full size

Backup small forwards

A third option is making Daye the backup small forward. This would help the situation more than making him a starting small forward, but it’s not a complete fix.


image Click for full size

Pounds per inch:

image Click for full size

Everyone else

There are only 50 players in the league who weigh less per inch that Daye. I though it would be fun to make a Sporcle quiz to see how many you can name. (If you’re not interested in challenging yourself, start the timer and hit “Give up?” above the timer after about about 15 seconds. The answers will appear).

If you look at the list, it’s full of quick guards who would easily blow past Daye.

There just aren’t many, if any, opponents Daye matches up well with.

What this all means

Daye’s body type makes it extremely difficult for him to guard and rebound against NBA frontcourt players. He’s also too slow to stay with many backcourt players. I don’t see either of those things changing anytime soon, if ever.

But Daye will often be a mismatch on the other end of the court. His offensive game is diverse, and opponents will struggle to cover him.

All I ask from Daye is that he do his best when it comes to defense and rebounding. Arnie Kander believes Daye is on the right track. From John Niyo of The Detroit News:

"He has learned how to widen his base," Kander said of Daye, whose massive wingspan — along with his smooth jump shot — made him one of the more intriguing draft prospects coming out of Gonzaga a year ago. "You can amazingly get strong if you have technique, and now he’s getting into his legs and using his strength in a real way.

"He’s an amazing talent, he really is. But he’s also a bright kid and he picks things up very fast and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get better."

I didn’t really see that in the opener against the Nets, but that’s only one game. Daye can and probably will get better.

For Daye, I think it’s important to appreciate the challenge he faces. But for Joe Dumars, I also think it’s fair to question drafting a player with such limitations.


  • Oct 31, 20108:02 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    Graphs? A Sporcle quiz? You went HARD man. No idea you hated Daye at the four so much.

  • Oct 31, 20109:43 pm
    by nuetes


    I didn’t hate Daye at the 4 at all, but that’s starting to change. If he was hitting his shots it might not be as big of an issue, but he’s been by far the worst Piston so far. He’s been the biggest liability on the court, well, outside of Rip.
    Throw some graphs together to show how bad Rip sucks now. Is talking about how bad Rip sucks too depressing? Why is everybody focusing on the front court issues so much when the biggest issue is in the backcourt? We’re stuck with this guy for 3 more years! At $12.7 mil per year!

  • Oct 31, 201011:51 pm
    by gmehl1977


    You are the ‘Graph-master’ man. Any chance on doing a heart chart for the pistons in 4th quarters thus far?

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve Kays, PistonPowered Feed. PistonPowered Feed said: Contextualizing Austin Daye’s lack of heftiness: Austin Daye is too small to play power forward. You don’t need a … http://bit.ly/czVD8e [...]

  • Nov 1, 201012:22 am
    by Rodman4Life


    Every time I see Daye masquerading at the PF I think of Chris Farley singing “Fat guy in a little coat!”  He is so in need of an Angus Thickburger. C’mon Pistons, really?

  • Nov 1, 20101:28 am
    by Joe


    I took the sporcle quiz and i just wanted to let you know that you have Jrue Holiday on there as Jrue HolidayHoliday. That explains why 0% of users have gotten him.

  • Nov 1, 20101:35 am
    by Laser


    well these graphs are certainly more useful than the last batch. i mean, look at how slight he is compared to small forwards, and what else do you need to know? he and rip have been the absolute worst pistons, and their backups have been outplaying them hard. something’s got to give with both of them. anyone think joe d or coach q does anything any time soon? in the league’s stubbornest organization, i doubt it. the risk they ran with giving daye the starting job is that they’re committed to sticking with him for a while. he won the job in eight meaningless games, so it stands to reason that eight games that actually DO count should be more than a fair sample size. personally, three seems rather fair from what i’ve seen.

  • Nov 1, 20103:55 am
    by Tom Y.


    I think Daye’s defense as a backup SF should be reasonably ok, and hopefully by next season he’ll add more bulk and confidence and be ready for the starting role. He’ll still be one of the thinnest per-inch SF’s in the league but there are other factors to playing good defense, such as technique, smarts and effort, and I think Daye has them all (well the technique he’ll improve on, and the others he already has).

  • Nov 1, 20104:25 am
    by Oats


    @neutes. Daye was supposed to be our bright spot, and has sucked. No one was excited to see Rip this year, so we just don’t care that he sucks.
    @Feldman. The point about Daye being too small for SF, I don’t buy it. He has spent his entire college career (I know, not long, but still) guarding guys that were much bigger than him, and in the post where there is a lot of banging going on. Admittedly many of those guys aren’t NBA post players, but several of them were similar in size and strength to NBA SFs (admittedly slower and less talented, but that has little to do with size). Don’t get me wrong, guys like Paul Pierce will still push him around, but all in all I think he’d play halfway decent defense.
    By the way, why isn’t Prince listed? I mean, there is a reason people use him as a reference point for Daye, so he should be up there. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the work you did on this post. It is quite interesting to see exactly what kind of disparity there is for Daye and the other guys in the league.
    Prince is listed at 215, a mere 6 lbs more than Daye. This puts him between Daye and Thadeus Young on the starters chart, or dead even with the Jason Kapono group among the reserves. Since Prince is 6’9″, that is roughly 2.65 lbs/inch, which is nearly identical to Josh Howard. Howard is a good stand in for Prince on the chart. On the backups, Al-Farouq Aminu is listed with the exact same height and weight as Prince. That fact makes me wonder how in the hell Aminu was being touted as a possible PF in the NBA. Well, I guess he is young and has a frame that could add weight, but still…
    Just for the record, because of his height advantage, Daye would need to get up to 220 to have roughly the same weight per inch as Prince. That would be adding roughly the weight he just put on over this summer, so it is totally in his grasp by next year. Anyways, keep up the good work Dan.

  • Nov 1, 20108:16 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    “Al-Farouq Aminu is listed with the exact same height and weight as Prince. That fact makes me wonder how in the hell Aminu was being touted as a possible PF in the NBA.”
    I think Aminu was touted as a PF more for his skillset than his size. There are doubts as to whether he’s skilled enough as a ballhandler/shooter to ever be an effective wing.
    Kind of the opposite of Daye, where the wing skillset is present even though he was a PF in college.

  • Nov 1, 20109:22 am
    by Tim


    Weight per inch is a very odd measure to choose. And it gives an unrealistic picture of a person’s scrawniness because it implies that as someone gets taller, they ought to continue to keep the same girth. But I would expect a taller person to have a larger waistline, larger shoulders, chest, thicker legs and arms. As is, Anthony Randolph (a twig) gets a higher weight/height than Will Bynum (a barrel). So it would make more sense to divide weight by either height squared or height  cubed (you know, to account for the fact that humans are three dimensional). That way a scrawny center would show up comparably to a scrawny point guard. In fact, Daye would look even worse on those charts, but at least it would be a fairer representation.

  • Nov 1, 201011:40 am
    by DoctorDaveT


    Hey, PP,
    PF = 205 lbs. Not.
    Come on, Q, 205 lbs isn’t going to produce any “power.” I didn’t need the charts to know how bad he was out “Powered” at Power Forward. (NOTE: the charts, though, were quite illustrative. They put “bars” to my imagination, and measurable sight stats to what I already knew to be true. He’s light! Thanks, Dan, for all of that hard work.)
    This guy is a Small Forward. He’s too thin to be a 4-5, and too slow to be a 2. He’s a 3 – and that’s all he’ll ever be.
    Now, here’s the good news: he has a chance to be a very good 3. If he can play “average” defense, he’ll be starting SF (as soon as Tay is traded or not signed).

  • Nov 1, 201011:58 am
    by nuetes


    Somebody needs to care that Rip sucks. I knew he would, but I was hoping I was wrong. A glance around the interweb reveals something – that people are done clamoring for Rip to be traded. He’s played so badly that people are now resigned to the fact he will be playing out his contract for the Pistons. He’s a negative win producer. He’s on a fast track to becoming our Eddie Curry. A $13 million dollar void on the roster. You can’t win when $13 mil of cap space is going to nothing. You couldn’t give Rip away right now. What’s worse is unlike Curry the Pistons are going to keep playing Rip, and keep playing him for at least the next 2 years.

  • Nov 1, 201012:12 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    I wouldn’t say that everyone knows how poorly Hamilton has played. On his podcast just last week, Bill Simmons said that “Rip Hamilton is going to be a steal for someone.” I only wish Minnesota had actually taken Simmons up on his offer to be the team’s GM a year ago.

  • Nov 1, 201012:38 pm
    by Hassan Shah


    Rip has looked like two different players.  The one that we know and love, who is curling off screens and hitting jumpers isn’t the one that I have an issue with.  I’ve noticed that the longer that Rip has the ball in his hands, the worse his is at this stage in his career.  With Stuckey playing so well and not turning the ball over as often as last year, why not let Stuckey initiate the offense and use Rip as the off ball threat he is?
    As for Daye, I noticed he was allowed to be much more of a creator in the preseason, so why not let him and Stuckey handle the offense with my previous suggestion, instead of making Daye a spot up shooter and taking away his quickness against bigger 4s.  Either way, Daye is definitely not the long term solution at the 4.  Ideally, Kuester realizes this, starts CV at the 4 (and hopefully he can continue his good play), and Daye can play minutes behind Tay at SF which seems to be his natural position and also behind CV at the 4 against bench PFs if it’s really needed.
    Also, instead of playing the ridiculous small ball lineup of Tayshaun at the 4 and Maxiell/Wallace at the 5, why not give Monroe a few minutes at the 4 when you need it and at least let him soak up some minutes.  Don’t worry about the fouls, just tell him to play solid D and he’ll get his time.
    I don’t know if it’s just me but I feel like a game plan like this would allow for more consistency and keep the offense flowing instead of getting stuck in 4th quarters.

  • Nov 1, 20104:26 pm
    by Oats


    @Hayes. Yeah, I saw Aminu at Wake. His only real skills were athleticism, and finding the ball around the basket, whether that be a rebound or being in position to receive a pass. He had no jump shot, no ball handling skills, no passing ability, and no post moves. He just often had the ball within 9 feet of the hoop, and was a competent defender with flashes that he might one day be a really good defender. At least that’s what I saw from him. I live in Virginia, so I saw a lot of ACC ball, but it’s not like I’m a Wake Forest fan that watched him all the time. I may be wrong about him, but he never struck me as physical enough to play the 4, and his lack of size seems to back that thought up. By the way, I always thought he reminded me of Ronnie Brewer.
    @neutes. I agree people should care, I was just answering why more don’t.  There is also the possibility he is just off to a slow start, that is also keeping people from caring. On top of that, as Hayes pointed out, not everyone has noticed how bad Rip looks. I think many fans resigned themselves to the Pistons being a lottery team, and they were looking forward to seeing the young guys develop, so we are just paying more attention to Daye’s poor play and Monroe’s lack of playing time than we are paying to Rip.

  • [...] Conventional wisdom: Austin Daye is too light to play power forward. At Piston Powered, Dan Feldman tests out that conventional wisdom by charting (the graphs are really pretty, too) the [...]

  • Nov 1, 20104:59 pm
    by Laser


    hard to blame rip for his atrocious start (hard to blame anyone except primarily joe and secondarily Q) with this isolation-only offense. guy’s been forced to get shots for himself off the dribble most of the time, and we all know that’s not his game.
    i mean, here you have three premier shooting guards, a premier small forward, and an exciting up-and coming small forward. if each of these five players played different positions, we’d have something worth getting excited about, but here we are starting four of them. it’s embarrassing.

  • Nov 1, 20106:29 pm
    by gmehl1977


    It’s impossible to disagree with you cause your exactly right but i would lie if i didn’t admit that it is getting very old. This is mainly because you have said the same thing since after the draft. It might be longer because i only signed up to pistonpowered just before then.
    Anyways after the way Daye has played to start the season and he was playing the same way at small forward then i would be extending Tayshaun as soon as we get the chance. Either that or Joe might want to press the self destruct button.

  • Nov 1, 20106:53 pm
    by nuetes


    Yeah I would think they would want to find out if Daye can handle the SF position before the end of the season, or better yet by the trade deadline. A decision has to be made on Prince, and honestly I wouldn’t even blame him if he wanted out anyway. He might not even want an extension there’s no way to tell. Being stuck with Gordon, Rip, and CV and having Prince walk, and not having Daye or Monroe turn out would spell doom.

  • Nov 1, 20107:13 pm
    by detroitpcb


    your comment that Daye will have a hard time rebounding and playing defense strikes me as absurd. He is the only Piston who boxes out, he actually rebounds very well in traffic for how slender he is, and his defense has been ok.

    what has really been poor is his shooting and that will not continue.

    and i have said this before – but with his length i think he can play the 2 despite his foot speed. He can challenge three point shots with his length and also use his length to block shots from behind if a 2 blows by him on the dribble.

    Despite his poor start, this kid is going to be good, and was an excellent draft choice.

  • Nov 1, 201010:53 pm
    by gmehl1977


    I also like Daye a lot and i think he is going to be a really good player in this league. I am just starting to think with how weak this team is looking at the moment what could have been if Joe had of maybe traded down in the 2009 draft. I know its hindsight and all but we could of had Taj Gibson, DeJuan Blair and Jonas Jerebko from that draft. A lineup of:
    C-Ben Wallace
    PF-Taj Gibson
    SF-Tayshaun Prince
    SG-Rip Hamilton
    PG-Rodney Stuckey
    Bench (Smalls)-Ben Gordon, Will Bynum
    Bench (Bigs)-DeJuan Blair, Charlie V, Jason Maxiell, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, Chris Wilcox
    I have added Greg Monroe to the roster but i am sure if we had of drafted DeJuan Blair & Taj Gibson instead of Austin Daye & DaJuan Summers then we would of NOT been a lottery team last year. I know there is no point crying about things now but it does hurt a little when you look at what could of been. You guys will have to cut me a little slack because i have had to listen to Laser the whole off season. I just think that Joe needs to not even mention ‘Pistons Basketball’ when talking about the team that has been assembled because it is completely the opposite. They haven’t looked terrible and should definitely be at least 2-1 at the moment but they just don’t have that toughness/hustle to eek out games. I would rather watch this team lose and play Pistons basketball then win games with the squad that has played these first 3 games.
    I had a feeling at the end of that 3rd quarter, even after CV hit that three at the buzzer that we were going to lose. We have got way to many followers and not enough leaders to finish off those kind of games. By leaders i mean guys that have that killer mentality like Billups. Guys that no when to score or get there team mates involved. Anyways i have vented enough and don’t usually post stuff this big but if i didn’t get it out then i was gonna exploded. I will follow this team no matter what but if things keep going this way then i am changing my user name to Laser 2.0

  • Nov 1, 201011:46 pm
    by Laser


    @pcb: getting boxed out by daye means nothing. all the positioning in the world isn’t going to help him muscle around guys who’ve got 50 pounds on him. i’ll make a deal with everyone here never to repeat myself around here if you just stop talking about austin daye already. i know there’s not much to get excited about, but he has not done one truly positive thing this season. your crush on him is more than grating, it’s almost creepy. you’ve been heaping on him the kind of praise i’d expect from his grandmother. please give it a rest until he does one thing in the regular season that’s worth a damn.
    @gmehl: give it a rest, buddy. everyone’s come around to me in the past few weeks since you’ve been gone. these days it’s only chic to complain about the length of my posts. the only thing more boring and played out than me complaining about the roster composition is people complaining about my complaints.
    and anyone who thinks the pistons “should” have won any of these games just isn’t being honest. their collapses in games 1 and 3 were surprising even to me, but the pistons earned each and every one of these losses so far. if we’re talking about “shoulda’s” how about “we never shoulda’ been able to build a 20 point lead with ben gordon running an extended series of isolation plays, with a few tayshaun isos mixed in. but the shots fell. the offense looked IDENTICAL throughout the game; the only difference was that the tough shots weren’t falling at the end. did we have one easy basket all game against chicago??
    and as for this “Laser 2.0″ business, i think there’s going to be a lot of lasers if joe doesn’t shake this roster up at least a little, but preferably a lot.

  • Nov 2, 20102:07 am
    by gmehl1977


    I am just playin my man. On a serious note though i was just venting on what could of been (draft wise).

  • Nov 3, 20105:13 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Joe, thanks for the tip. It should be fixed.

  • Nov 3, 20105:15 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Oats, I think you made my argument by acknowledging Daye’s college opponents, especially in the WAC, weren’t NBA caliber.

    Prince isn’t included because Daye will never have to guard or box out Prince in a game.

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