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Often, you hear scouts, fans, or journalists touting a certain player and talking what a physical specimen he is, When the player is talked about as a freak of nature, it’s usually in reference to his large wingspan, gargantuan height, colossal strength or tremendous vertical.
One physical attribute that we often forget, but is super important, is the size of the player’s hands. Even though it won’t make or break someone’s career, having long and wide hands can be very useful and help NBA professionals expand their game.
Why are Big Hands Important in Basketball?
There’s practically no aspect of the game where the large hands are not useful. On offense, being able to hold and control the ball like it’s a toy provides players with numerous advantages. Superb dribbling skills often are a by-product of having a massive handspan. It’s only logical that the ability to palm the ball would increase its control. Also, the ability to command the ball with one hand is essential when driving the lane and going for a layup or a dunk.
On defense, big hands make swiping the ball from the ball handler and intercepting the lanes much less of a problem. Pulling a rebound and keeping the ball is also much simpler with the benefit of huge hands.
Players with Big Hands Throughout the History
A lot of legendary NBA players, some of the greatest ever, owe at least a bit of their success to their freakishly large hands. The late iconic Laker, Kobe Bryant once said that if he could change one thing about himself, physically, the first on the list would be the bigger hands.
For some of them, who are in every way gigantic human beings, it’s not so surprising. Wilt Chamberlains, who still holds the record for most points in a single game, had a hand length of 9.5″ and 11.5″ handspan. Shaquille O’Neill became one of the most dominant centers ever helped by, among other physical attributes, his hands’ 10.25″ length and 12″ span.
On the other hand, a lot of players of smaller stature benefited from having unusually large hands. Among others, the greatest of all, Michael Jordan (9.75″/11.375″ length/span) and the Lakers legend, Elgin Baylor (9.75″/11″)
The importance of big hands in basketball is further emphasized with the stories of players who had extraordinary small hands. The most famous of them all: the curious case of Kwame Brown. He was a former No, 1 draft pick, with all of the physical tools necessary to become one of the leading big men in the league. Nevertheless, his career was hindered by the size (or rather the lack of it) of his hands to the point that he became an object of ridicule by media and fans.
The List of Active NBA Players with the Biggest Hands
Boban Marjanovic (Dallas Mavericks)
The least surprising name on the list. A giant of a man in every sense, Bobi has the largest hands in the league’s history and might be a solid contender for the largest hands in the whole world. Although never officially measured, his hands are estimated to have 10.75″ length and 12″ span.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Greek Freak is a superior physical specimen in every way imaginable and his hands are no exception. Giannis boast the hand length of 9.85′ and 12″ handspan. These insane measurements are a big part of his meteoric rise from low-level Greek leagues to the All-NBA.
Noah Vonleh (Denver Nuggets)
Exceptional rebounding is the biggest quality of Noah Vonleh’s game. His excellence on the boards is pretty much aided by the size of his hands. Vonleh’s hands are the second-largest ever measured at NBA Combine. 9.8″ of length and the span of 11.8″ are the guarantee Denver’s power forward will be grabbing the rebounds in this league for a long time.
Kahwi Leonard (Los Angels Clippers)
When your nickname is “The Klaw”, then you know that your hands are the stuff of legends. Handspan of 11.25″ and 9.75″ length are one of the reasons why Kahwi is a nightmare for every opposing player he guards. With freakishly large hands, the two-times Defensive Player of the Year and multiple All-Star continues to strike fear around the league.
Jahlil Okafor (New Orleans Pelicans)
Every scouting report on Jahlil Okafor noted that, while his shooting is questionable and defense suspect at best, he is extremely skilled at the post and beast on the boards. Obviously, his skillset has a lot to with his massive hands. With hands 9.5″ long and the span of 11.25″, Jahlil claims that he can hold 13 tennis balls in one hand.
Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Just the sight of Steven Adams is enough to cause panic among the opposition. As if his towering presence, tattoos, and beard are not enough, take your look down and you see two gigantic hands. Eleven inches long, they help him do the dirty work under the basket he so much enjoys.
Dewayne Dedmon (Atlanta Hawks)
After going undrafted, Dewayne Dedmon has managed to carve out a solid career for himself in the NBA. His three greatest strengths: rebounding, shot-blocking, and outside shooting all owe a lot to his 11″ long hands.
Enes Kanter (Boston Celtics)
With the slightly smaller hands than his Mustache Brother Steven Adams, Enes Kanter’s palm’s size is still enough to dominate the post, both on offense and defense. Standing at 6’11”, his scary presence on the court is only added by his 10.8″ long hands.
Alex Len (Sacramento Kings)
Former No. 5 pick never fulfilled the promise he showed at the start of his career but still has his place in the league, mostly due to the excellent shot-blocking capabilities. His 10.8″ hands are an excellent tool that he maximizes in his game.
Rajon Rondo (Los Angeles Lakers)
Although his hand size is not actually in the top 10, it would be a sin not to mention Rondo on this list. At the height of only 6’1″, he has a hand length of 9.5′ and 10″ inches span. To put things into perspective it’s a similar size as DeMarcus Cousins’ hands and larger than the hands of Nikola Vucevic.