“Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there’s your diamond in the rough.”
The NBA Scouting Combine wrapped up this weekend, an event where dozens of NBA hopefuls converged in one place to have nearly every part of their physical makeup broken down into categories. Body fat... wing span... hand size.... height with shoes... height without shoes. These measurements do mean something. We now know that Trae Young is a tiny human (in the NBA world). And that Mo Bamba is a big human (in the world world).
BUT even in this information age, NBA teams are still not measuring the most important physical feature that equates to success in a player’s career. Take a look at top 10 career scoring list for a second.
Picture those players in your head for a second. What common trait do at least half of them have? Think above the shoulders. Yes! Half of the top ten scorers of all-time are BALD. Now of course most every man loses some of, if not most of their hair, at some point. But specifically what I’m looking at is how bald these players were during their playing days.
We can say definitively Karl Malone, Shaq and MJ were bald. Jordan was so dominated that he turned his shaved-head baldness into a desirable look for men, even those who could actually grow hair! If there was a Hall of Fame for the Follicly-Challenged, Jordan would a first ballot HOFer along with Bruce Willis, The Rock and Pitbull. Kareem is not quite definitive be he aged into being bald and is how (at least I) most remember him, bald with rec specs and skinny arms sky-hooking over everyone.
That is four names and I’d argue there should be a fifth. LeBron James is a bald man. No matter the increasingly severe angles he previously placed his headband at, no matter what was implanted in his head to make it look like he has hair, LeBron is bald. Also his desire to run away from his baldness, and Jordan’s decision to embrace it, is another reason why MJ is the GOAT and LeBron is the GORN, the Greatest of Right Now.
LeBron will at some point be in the top 5 all-time scorers. When that happens, 4 out of the top 5 scorers of all-time will be bald men. That’s an 80 percent hit-rate for bald men being better at basketball than men with hair.
So why are bald men better at basketball? Several reasons really. First, aerodynamics. A bald head cuts through the air, while a head full of hair is weighed down by those luscious locks. Bald players move just a tick faster than those with hair. In a league where every percentage point of possible success is obsessed over, that tick faster matters.
Second, time management. If you are reading this and you have hair, think about all the time you spend shampooing it, conditioning it, drying it, combing it, styling it. All of those minutes are inefficient. Do you know why Steve Jobs wore the same black turtleneck and blue jeans everyday? So he wouldn’t waste time thinking about what he was going to wear. It is the same thing with hair. If you don’t have it, you don’t have to think about it. Those are minutes that can now be used improving a player’s post game or 3pt shot.
Third reason is a bit more far-fetched but stay with me here. A basketball is round. A bald head is round. A person with a bald head has more experience handling spherical surfaces than someone with hair.
Carlos Boozer would’ve been a 10 time All-Star if he didn’t do this to himself
It is the Reverse Samson Syndrome. Samson drew his strength from his hair. Jordan and others draw their strength from their lack of hair. All of this brings me back to the Scouting Combine. This revelation concerning receding hairlines deserves consideration when it comes to figuring out which prospects will make it.
After weeks at the chalkboard, I’ve developed a stat called Hairline Increasingly Sketchy or HIS. HIS considers a player’s PPG in whatever league they played in plus the sketchiness of their hairline. Exactly how do I determine that? The two main areas I’m looking at are the right angles where the top part of someone’s hair meets the sides (where the frontal meets the sphenoid) and then that back part of a person’s head that you need the barber to place a mirror behind you to see. Now using HIS, I will re-rank the top six prospects (Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, Jackson, Bamba, and Young) in the draft according to their HIS score.
6TH OVERALL PROSPECT: Jaren Jackson Jr.
HIS Score: 11
Already HIS is making a ton of sense. Jackson is described as the prospect that most fits into what any team would want from their center; a player who blocks shots and is efficient from 3. What he isn’t though is a bulk scorer, someone who is unlikely to ever score 20 PPG in a season. For the hair, he gets a 0.1. Solid, clean lines to the edge with no signs of slippage. And it’s important to note that HIS is not an overall contributor metric like PER. It focuses solely on scoring potential.
5TH OVERALL PROSPECT: Mo Bamba
HIS Score: 13.2
Bamba is along the same lines as Jackson: defense first with a limited amount of offensive upside. His hair is a triumph of course. Fantastic look but there are slight hints of an upward curl towards the corners. Could be nothing but worth monitoring as he ages.
4TH OVERALL PROSPECT: DeAndre Ayton
HIS Score: 20.7
Now we are entering the elite prospects in the draft. First let’s start with Ayton’s hair. I was tempted to give it a higher score (which again is a good thing since the whole premise here is that being bald is better). There is a hint of, what I like to call, a deceptive hairline. It is one where the hair is shaved in a certain way so that it looks like someone has a straight and strong hairline above their forehead. When in reality the barber cut it that way to make it appear straight and strong. As I say, there’s is just a hint of that, cannot confirm that is the case.
So for now, Ayton’s HIS Score relies mostly on his production at Arizona. He is most often compared to a young Shaq, but Shaq was bald by the time he moved to LA. It’s a real pity. If Ayton had a random bald spot, we’d be looking at a potential all-timer.
3RD OVERALL PROSPECT: Marvin Bagley III
HIS Score: 23.4
We’re inching closer to some real potential here. At first glance you’d think Bagley is an automatic 0 score for hair while he rocks a Chuckie-from-The-Rugrats look. But look closer at that look and you can see more of a U shaped hairline than a straight edge. My hope is that he keeps the current look while that hairline continues to inch further and further backwards, eventually leaving him with a Dr. Brown from Back to the Future.
2ND OVERALL PROSPECT: Luka Doncic
HIS Score: 25.3
The case for drafting has Luka has been his preternatural production as a teenager for one of Europe’s premier teams. Why teams should be drafting Luka is because of his premature balding. The big Slovenia is about 5 years away from having to make a serious decision of whether to do an elaborate comb-over or to give himself the Howie Mandel.
Again, all these prospects are 19-20 years old so we’re splitting hairs here (pun intended). But there are a few key indicators that are leading to Luka’s HIS Score. The focal point of his hair is in the center of his hairline, meaning that is the strongest part of his hair. That alleviates the hair-styling pressure off the corners of his hairline, which are not 90 degree angles but look more like semi-circles.
Honestly, Luka’s score should probably be even higher considering I have not yet figured out the conversion between college production and European pro-ball production. One note of caution though. If you can reference back to the top 10 scoring list. There is only one European on that list: Dirk Nowitzki a man with a history of glorious hair. So there’s a chance HIS doesn’t apply across the Atlantic. Luka will be a fantastic test case. And now for the definitive top prospect in the draft, the player who should be taken number one overall.
1ST OVERALL PROSPECT: Trae Young
HIS Score: 84.1
I don’t know if a prospect has ever showed as much promise as young Trae. His hair evokes images of an unfinished Chia Pet, scraggly onion rings on a BBQ bacon burger, tumbleweeds blowing through a scene in a Western movie, a bird’s nest where the momma bird gave up halfway in between. If Young’s HIS Score was translated in into midi-chlorians, he’d have a higher count than Anakin Skywalker. And I’m not providing a link to that last reference because if you don’t know what that means, I don’t want you to read this post anymore.
There was a time, around December-January, that Young was being mentioned as the number one overall pick, over Ayton and Doncic. His play and his team’s play fell off in the second half of the season. But his HIS Score indicates that not only should Young be the number one overall pick, he is guaranteed to achieve greatness never seen before in basketball. The Great Young Bald Baller is about to take the NBA by storm. Whichever team picks him will be lucky to have him.