Brittney Griner: How Would the Baylor Star Fare Playing Men's or NBA Basketball?

Shehan Jeyarajah@shehanjeyarajahCorrespondent IApril 4, 2013

DENVER, CO - APRIL 03:  Brittney Griner #42 of the Baylor Bears celebrates late in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the National Final game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

In the past few days, Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban made waves by saying he would consider drafting Baylor women's basketball star Brittney Griner into the NBA. Griner perhaps added even more fuel to the fire when she responded on Twitter, "I would hold my own...let's do it!" The question has been thrown around: Could Brittney Griner actually play in the NBA? 

There is no question that Griner is way too small to be a true big in the NBA. Most small forwards measure around 6'9", and most centers tower near 7'0" tall. Griner is 6'8" and weighs a paltry 208 pounds. A few players who weigh in that range include Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Manu Ginobili. A few players who weigh significantly more than her include Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Kevin Durant and many, many more. If Griner wants to be a big in the NBA, she's going to have to add a significant amount of body mass. 

Outside of height and weight, Griner actually is not so far off from NBA players. By far the thing that makes her such a significant basketball player is her incredible wingspan, which is measured at 7'4".

To give comparisons, current Baylor center Isaiah Austin is listed as having a wingspan of 7'1", Chris Bosh is listed at 7'3" and Joakim Noah's is only listed at 7'1". Griner would be pretty significantly above average, even for an NBA center. Her standing reach has been measured at 9'2", which is also above average for an NBA big. 

One player who may compare favorably to Griner in the NBA would be Milwaukee Bucks forward and former North Carolina Tar Heel John Henson. Henson is a lanky shot-blocker who is beginning to earn nightly minutes in Milwaukee, and has shown the potential to turn into a defensive anchor. 

Now let's be frank: Henson has a wingspan that is an inch longer than Griner's, he weighs 15 more pounds and he is significantly more athletic. But in terms of shot-blocking instincts, length and basketball IQ, Griner is comparable. 

No woman has ever made an NBA roster, and at the end of the day, Griner most likely won't be the first. However, a summer league invite would be a fun experience, and it would be exciting to see if Brittney really could hold her own against NBA-caliber talent. If she is willing, she should go for it!