Height has always been one of the main weapons for basketball players, but unfortunately, one doesn't get to choose how tall they get to be.
While skill can be developed, trained and improved, there's really nothing that can be done about stature. Being tall is so important, it almost seems like a prerequisite for being an NBA player.
Thankfully, some short men have given lie to that notion, paving the way for generations of undersized players with great aspirations. Over the years, we've seen quite a few of them shine in the NBA.
The likes of Allen Iverson, Tim Hardaway and Chris Paul are chief examples. They all dominated the sport on some level during their eras, and have proven that height is simply a bonus when it comes to being a star in the NBA. The aforementioned are all 6 feet tall, though, and that makes them ineligible for this particular list, which focuses on players shorter than 6 feet.
A good few of those have graced the league, and really impressed too, putting up amazing numbers over their careers. One such player is currently the second highest scorer in the league this season.
With that, let’s take a look at 15 of the highest-scoring short guys – all under 6 feet – in the history of the NBA.
15 Earl Boykins
The former point guard spent 14 seasons in the NBA and is the second shortest player to ever grace the league.
Boykins, whose name fit him pretty well, is just 5 ft 5 in, only two inches taller than Muggsy Bogues, the shortest-ever NBA player - who finds himself on this list as well for obvious reasons.
The ex-guard began his career in New Jersey with the Nets in 1998, but it wasn't until joining the Los Angeles Clippers two years later he began to see some real game time. And even his first season in L.A proved to be a struggle, as he only played 10 games. His second season saw him rack up 68 appearances before moving to Denver in 2003, where he averaged double figures in all of his four campaigns there.
Boykins played on 10 teams before leaving the game in 2012, and is viewed as one of the best short guys to play the game in recent memory.
14 Muggsy Bogues
Named Tyrone Curtis Bogues, the former guard, who spent most of his NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets, is the shortest player to ever join the league - as mentioned before.
Muggsy, as he was known, was only 5 ft 3 in, but he was quite the big performer. He is currently No.20 on the all-time assists leader-board with 6,726 career assists, ahead of stars like Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.
He is also the player who has the most career assists for anyone under 6 ft.
A player that short should only be famous for his cameo role in Space Jam, but the former guard was so much more. After retiring from playing, Bogues took up the role of head coach of WNBA side Charlotte Sting.
Sad to say, though, all of his players were taller than him.
13 Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson's highest season average stands at 17.1, a feat achieved whilst playing for the New York Knicks, and for a guy who's 5 ft 9 in, he can boast blocking the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Lebron James, Dwight Howard and Yao Ming.
He also won the Slam-Dunk contest on three occasions, which is quite an impressive achievement. The point guard recorded a 45-point game against the Portland Trailblazers in 2008, also hitting eight threes in a single game against them in the previous year.
Robinson now plays in the NBDL for the Delaware 87ers, and at 32, could soon retire from the game altogether.
Throughout his career, he averaged 11.0 points and 3.0 assists per game, which again, isn't at all bad for a diminutive player.
12 Spud Webb
Nate Robinson isn't the only player on the list who won the Slam-Dunk contest. Former Atlanta Hawks point guard Spud Webb completed the feat as well, and at 5 ft 7 in, was two inches shorter than Robinson, and mentored the NBDL guard before his first victory.
Webb was known for his high-flying acrobatics, but was also a solid scorer of the basketball throughout his 13-year NBA career. When the Detroit Pistons drafted him in 1985, it came as quite the surprise, as many thought that he would have joined some European side or the Harlem Globetrotters due to his height.
He never played for the Pistons, though, as he was immediately sent to Atlanta where he would play his first six seasons. After moving to Sacramento in 1991, he put up his best numbers, before moving back to Atlanta after four seasons. He did not stay there a full season, however, playing the second half of the term with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Webb played one more season with the Orlando Magic before calling it quits.
11 Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson now coaches the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team (University of Alabama), having worked as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and the New Jersey Nets, who changed to the Brooklyn Nets under his reign.
Johnson led Dallas to the NBA finals in 2006, but the team suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
As a player, Johnson was passed up in the 1988 draft so he started his career with the Palm Beach Sting Rays in the United States Basketball League, before working his way up to the NBA, where he floated around five different teams before settling with the Spurs in 1994.
He stayed there until 2001, and played a huge role in them winning the championship in the 1999 final, also hitting the title-winning shot in game five of the series.
The 5 ft 10 in guard averaged 10.1 points as a Spurs player, and had his No.6 jersey retired in 2007.
10 Damon Stoudamire
While many short players were drafted late or not drafted at all, 5 ft 10 in point guard Damon Stoudamire's name was not allowed to go any higher than seventh in the 1995 NBA draft.
The Toronto Raptors made him their first-ever draft pick that year, and he repaid them by winning the Rookie of the Year Award, as well as averaging 19 points and 9.3 assists per game in his first season. His second season saw him register 20.2 points and 8.8 assists per game, while his third brought forth 19.4 points and 8.1 assists.
His production dropped after he joined the Portland Trailblazers in 1998. He remained a consistent scorer, and set a team record for most points in a single game with 54, but his Blazers career was tarnished by several marijuana-related incidents that saw him arrested, suspended and fined on more than one occasion.
9 Chucky Atkins
Chucky Atkins was a reliable backup point guard nearly all of his NBA career, and was as dependable as they come. Standing at 5 ft 11 in, Atkins provided his teams with a potent scoring outlet but contributed on the defensive end as well.
He started his NBA metier with the Orlando Magic, and went on to play for the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, among other clubs. He was a starter for the Lakers in the 2004/05 season, and started all 82 games in the first year of the post-Shaq era that saw the franchise miss the playoffs.
He averaged 13.6 points and 4.4 assists per game in his only season in Los Angeles, also posting averages of 12.5 points and 12 points for the Memphis Grizzlies and Celtics respectively.
8 Larry Brown
Better known for his coaching exploits, most notably with the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, Larry Brown was actually a decent point guard - albeit not in the NBA (forgive the exception).
Brown, who stood at 5 ft 9 in, was deemed too short to play in the NBA. He went on to star in the North American Basketball League (NABL), and would be selected for the 1964 Summer Olympic team that won gold in Tokyo.
He moved to the newly formed American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1967 and was named MVP in their first All-Star game the following year. In 1969, Brown became ABA champion with the Oakland Oaks.
Brown, who averaged 11.2 points per game as an ABA player, set the record for the most assists in one game with 23, and is seventh on the league's all-time assist leader-board with 2,509 registered assists during his career.
7 Ty Lawson
One of the taller short players on this list, at 5 ft 11, Sacramento Kings Point guard Ty Lawson used to be a chief source of offense for the Denver Nuggets, who got him from the Minnesota Timberwolves after he was drafted as the 18th pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
He would have probably gotten drafted as a lower pick if not for concerns regarding his fitness; particularly an oft-injured ankle.
Lawson spent six seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 14.2 points and 6.6 assists before getting traded to the Houston Rockets in 2015. His production dropped after leaving Denver, but has risen again after playing 55 games with the Kings this season, having signed for the team last year.
6 Brevin Knight
Now 41 years old, 5 ft 10 inch Brevin Knight played with nine NBA teams over his 12-year career.
Knight was a star in college. And playing for Stanford, he set records as their all-time assists leader with 298, as well as their leader in steals with 780.
The former point guard was chosen as the 16th pick in the first round of the 1997 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and would lead the league in steals in his rookie year, making his way into the NBA Rookie All-First team.
After stints in Atlanta, Memphis, Phoenix, Washington and Milwaukee, Knight found himself in Charlotte with the Bobcats, where he played out one of his best seasons (2004/05), averaging 10.1 points, nine assists and 1.98 steals per game.
Only Steve Nash finished that season with a better assists average that term.
5 T.J. Ford
TJ Ford was another college star, who played out his pre-NBA basketball with the Texas Longhorns between 2001 and 2003 as a point guard.
Standing at 5 ft 11 inches, Ford became the first freshman player to lead the entire country in assists, with an average of 8.27 per game in his first season. He also led the Longhorns in both minutes and steals per game that season.
The guard entered the 2003 NBA draft and was made the eighth pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He came into the league with huge expectations, having already drawn comparisons to NBA legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Yet, persistent back injuries didn't allow him to reach his potential.
He missed several games in his first three seasons, and was moved to Toronto in 2006, stepping up as their starting point guard. He had his best season that year, and would record averages of 14.0 points and 7.9 assists a game.
4 Fred Scolari
Apart from being short, Fred Scolari also faced some peculiar challenges as a player. Imagine being blind in one eye and deaf in one ear while playing basketball.
Well, those were the very hurdles Scolari had to get over to excel as a player, and excel he did. Also considered to be overweight ‘Fat Freddy’, as he was known, proved a remarkable talent during his high school and University days.
The 5 ft 10 in point guard began his professional career with the Washington Capitals of the Basketball Association of America (what the NBA was called back then) in 1946. He later played for the Syracuse Nationals, Baltimore Bullets, Fort Wayne Pistons and Boston Celtics.
The California native was also a great defender, but possessed an absurd shooting style, releasing the ball from his hip instead of above his head like everyone else. It was quite efficient, though, and brought him much success.
Scolari averaged 11.3 points per game over his career, and was made an All-Star on two occasions.
3 Isaiah Thomas
The Boston Celtics guard's name - albeit a slight difference in spelling - has left him with big shoes to fill, but he seems to be living up to the calling nowadays.
Thomas, 28, is currently second in the league in scoring, with an average of 29.4 points a game, just behind Russel Westbrook's 31.7 (at the time of writing). Standing at 5 ft 9 in, the Washington native has his way in the paint, and can hurt defenses in so many ways.
He did get off to a slow start, averaging 11.5 points and 4.1 assists per game in his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings after they took him up as the very last pick in the 2011 draft (60th second round). He has since played in Phoenix, and has now found a home in Boston where he continues to impress night in night out.
2 Slater Martin
Surely the most successful player on this list, the late Slater Martin was a five-time NBA champion, and one of the best defensive players of his generation.
Playing alongside the great George Mikan, the 5 ft 10 in point guard helped the Minneapolis Lakers to four titles between 1950 and 1954, before moving to the St. Louis Hawks to win another title in 1958.
Martin was also a seven-time NBA All-Star, who averaged 9.8 points over 13 seasons. He boasted averages of 13.6 and 13.2 points per game in the 1954/55 season and 1955/56 season respectively.
In 1982, Martin was inducted into the Hall of Fame. And in 2012, he passed away at the age of 82 due to an undisclosed illness.
1 Calvin Murphy
While Slater Martin is the most successful player on here, former Houston Rockets guard Calvin Murphy is certainly the best.
The 5 fit 9 in point guard, known for his speed, agility and defensive prowess, was a great scorer of the ball. He was the shortest to play in an All-Star game before Isiah Thomas did so last year.
Murphy spent his entire career with the Rockets, and left behind an impressive points per game average of 17.9. He averaged over 20 points a game in five of his 13 seasons as a player, with his best scoring campaign coming in 1977/78, as he posted an impressive 25.6 points a game.
The Connecticut native was the Rockets' all-time leading scorer until Hakeem Olajuwon came along, and registered a whopping 17,949 points over his career. He was induced into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Sadly, he wasn't able to win a championship, but as far as short players go, Calvin Murphy takes the cake.
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