The NBA is a league built for the tallest of people and it really shows so when you look at the average height of the players. In the 2021/22 season, the average height of an NBA player is 6’6.2”, also known as around 200cm tall.
It really shows how big this is when you compare it to the national average. For men in the US, the average height is 5ft 9 inches, meaning the average NBA player is nine inches taller than the average US citizen.
You don’t need to be tall to play in the NBA, but it sure helps.
Tallest Players in NBA history
|Player||Time in the NBA||Height|
|1.||Gheorghe Muresan||1993-2000||7ft 7in (231 cm)|
|2.||Manute Bol||1985-1994||7ft 7in (231cm)|
|3.||Tacko Fall||2019-||7ft 6in (229cm)|
|4.||Slavko Vranes||2004||7ft 6in (229cm)|
|5.||Shawn Bradley||1993-2005||7ft 6in(229cm)|
|6.||Yao Ming||2002-2011||7ft 6in(229cm)|
|7.||Chuck Nevitt||1982-1993||7ft 5in(226cm)|
|8.||Pavel Podkolzin||2004-2006||7ft 5in(226cm)|
|9.||Sim Bhullar||2015||7ft 5in(226cm)|
|10.||Mark Eaton||1982-1993||7ft 4in(224cm)|
|11.||Rik Smits||1988-2000||7ft 4in(224cm)|
|12.||Ralph Sampson||1983-1992||7ft 4in(224cm)|
|13.||Boban Marjanovic||2015-||7ft 4in(224cm)|
|14||Priest Lauderdale||1996-1998||7ft 4in(224cm)|
|15.||Peter John Ramos||2004-2005||7ft 3.5in(222cm)|
How has the average height of NBA players changed over time?
It may seem as though the NBA is getting taller, but this is not actually the case currently. When the NBA started all the way back in 1950, the average player height was only just over 6’4” or 193cm. This average rose gradually throughout the 1950s,1960s,1970s and 1980s. The highest the average player height has ever been in the NBA was in 1987 when the average NBA player was 6’7.1”.
The NBA has never been as tall on average as it was in 1987. Since then, the average height has been slightly decreasing. In fact this season’s average player height is the smallest the NBA has ever been since 1979.
NBA fans would also understand the decrease in average player height because in the last decade or so, the “Small Ball” revolution has taken over the NBA. Championship winning teams like the Warriors and the Heat adopted smaller line-ups, looking to take advantage of the mismatches that a smaller line up would possess. Smaller line-ups create a much more stretched defence, therefore creating more opportunities for scoring from outside of the paint.
It is a trend we will likely see continue into the future. The NBA is looking to become increasingly high paced, with teams putting more and more emphasis on speed and scoring. This is much more likely to be to the benefit of shorter guards and forwards, as they are much more agile than some of the taller players in the NBA. Don’t be surprised if the NBA continues to get shorter.
What is the average height of an NBA Point Guard?
Point Guard has always been the shortest position on the floor, with point guards usually responsible for bringing the ball up the court and distributing it on offence.
The reason Point Guards are the shortest is because they need to be quick and agile. Ball handling requires fast changes of direction as well as being able to control possession while under press.
Points Guards began as being barely over 6ft when the NBA began in 1950. Like the rest of the NBA, they grew until reaching a peak in 1987, same as the rest of the NBA. This tallest NBA point guard has ever been on average at 6’2.7”. Point guards started getting smaller going into the 1990s, but the 2010s and 2020s have seen a surprising trend, opposite to the rest of the NBA.
Point Guards are actually getting taller on average. The average Point guard is around an inch taller than they were a decade ago. In the 2021/22 season, the average Point Guard is currently 6’2.5”, not far off from the tallest average in 1987.
We have seen over the last few years, Point Guards become much more multifunctional, mainly following in the footsteps of Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons and Kyle Anderson. This trend could continue as the Point Guards are given more responsibilities.
What is the average height of an NBA Shooting Guard
Shooting Guard has always been the 2nd shortest player on any NBA team, with their primary responsibility being shooting and defending the opposition’s best guard. Shooting Guards have increased steadily since 1950 when the average Shooting Guard was 6’1.5”. This increase has risen all the way to the highest average height of 6’5.3”, which occurred in 2003 and then again in 2010.
But since 2010, Shooting Guards have been getting slightly shorter. In the 2021/22 season, the average height of a Shooting Guard in the NBA is 6’4.5”. Shooting Guards have not been much affected by the “Small Ball” revolution in the NBA. The average height of an NBA Shooting Guard will likely remain pretty similar continuing on into the future.
What is the average height of an NBA Small Forward
The smallest of any front court, there have been some incredible Small Forwards in the history of the NBA including Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. It is a position which has always produced a lot of scoring. The average height of a Small Forward in the 2021/22 NBA season is 6’6.4”, also known as 199cm.
However, this has not always been the average height for NBA Small Forwards. When the NBA started all the way back in 1950, the average Small Forward was 6’4.3”, which like the rest of the NBA, rose gradually up the late 1980s.
The tallest Small Forwards on average occurred in 1988, when the average Small Forward was 6’7.6”. This height kept pretty constant until small ball began to take over in the 2010s.
The average Small Forward height has been decreasing since 2015, as Small Forwards become quicker and more agile. Small Forwards will surely be swept up in the Small Ball revolution and may continue to get shorter as teams look for quicker starting line-ups.
What is the average height of an NBA Power Forward
Point Forwards have often been given the responsibilities held by both Centres and Small Forwards. Often their height is crucial for rebounding, but Power Forwards tend to rely on their scoring much more than Centres. This of course varies among teams, but the general pattern shows a range of responsibilities for Power Forwards.
When the NBA began in 1950, Power Forwards were only just over 6’6” on average. They followed the trend of most of the rest of the NBA in gradually getting taller until the 1980s, when Power Forwards heights began to plateau in the NBA. But as they became a less important position in the 2010s, they were massively affected by teams looking to play Small Ball.
The average height of the NBA Power Forward has been decreasing since the NBA entered the 2010s. In fact the average height of Power Forwards decreased all the way down to 6’8” in 2021. This season, the average height of an NBA Power Forward is 6’8.2”.
What is the average height of an NBA Centre
Centre has always been the tallest position in the NBA. Giants like Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon have dominated the paint in the history of the NBA. It is a position that has kept pretty constant throughout the history of the NBA. Centres started at an average height of 6’8.5” in 1950.
Centres began getting taller as the NBA began getting taller, peaking in 1987, when NBA centres were only 0.2 inches shorter than 7ft on average. Despite centres over 7ft in the NBA today like Kristaps Porzingis and Boban Marjanovic, NBA centres have gotten shorter on average since 1987.
Small Ball has meant shorter players like Draymond Green, PJ Tucker and Chuck Hayes have all played Centre in the NBA. They are all players who have the defensive ability to play Centre despite being undersized. In the 2021/22 season, the average NBA centre was listed as being 6’10.3”, also known as 209.1cm.
Will the NBA get taller or shorter in the future?
Small Ball has meant that the NBA has gotten much shorter over the past decade. Teams and Coaches are prioritising agility and spreading an offence. Traditional big men would crowd the paint, backing into defenders in order to score. It seems as though these traditions have been moved on from, in favour of spreading the offence and hitting threes.
But NBA big men are adapting to these changes. More and More we are seeing players 7ft or over hitting threes and controlling the offence. Young players like Giannis, Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis are revolutionising the way NBA big men contribute on offence. NBA Centres and Power Forwards are hitting threes at a rate never seen before in the NBA. They are most certainly keeping their position alive.
These two major factors mean it is difficult to predict whether NBA players will get shorter or taller in the future on average. It seems as though in the short term, NBA players will continue to get shorter on average as the NBA continues to prioritise scoring and three pointers over defence.
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