The NBA, like any American sport features players of all different heights and skill sets, and we’ve seen players under 5’6” be just as successful as those over 7’4”, and it shows just how diverse a sport basketball is. Size like this can either be a great help to a player's success, or it can be an obstacle to them, but either way, these players are all succeeding more than any of us, as they’ve got to live their dream by just entering the NBA. The following list is going to look at those varying heights, as we discuss the 8 tallest NBA players, and the 8 shortest in the game today.
(Authors note: For the purposes of this list, we will be including guys who play in the G-League to get the full range of shortest-tallest, as this is still technically an NBA contract, as they could be up in the big league any moment).
16 Tallest: Marc Gasol (2.16m – 7’1”)
In the past, someone of this height would be nothing more than a good defender who pulled down a lot of rebounds (and there’s plenty of guys like that left), but Marc Gasol has set himself apart from the crowd with a great shooting touch and incredible skills with the basketball in hand. Unfortunately for Gasol, his best years were spent in Memphis, where the team could never quite get over the hill in a very tough Western Conference, but he still remains one of the most talented big men in the game. We’ve got a new crop of Centers coming through like Karl Anthony-Towns, Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis, and it wouldn’t be surprising if some of them took parts of Gasol’s game to mold their own.
15 Shortest: Patty Mills (1.83m – 6’0”)
The San Antonio Spurs have been a fantastic organization for years, and under Coach Pop, the team has got the most out of some very underrated players, and the Australian Patty Mills is the perfect example of that. He was pivotal in the Spurs last Championship run, and with Tony Parker nearing the end of his stellar career, Mills will become just as important to the Spurs as any of their current players (Kawhi Leonard not included). As for his height, Patty stands at 6-flat on the dot, and as we go through the list you’ll notice there are three guys at that same height, but in actuality, there are 15+ guys at this height in the NBA, we just picked a few of our favorites for the purposes of this list.
14 Tallest: Georgios Papagiannis (2.16m – 7’1”)
Georgios Papagiannis is just 20 years of age, but he’s been playing professional basketball since the age of 14, and while that’s very common for European players, especially ones of this height, Papagiannis still manages to stand out among the pack. He was drafted in 2016 at the age of 18, and he’s bounced around and now finds himself in the G-League, but someone of his height, potential and pure talent won’t be completely out of the NBA for much longer. In 16 minutes of play for the Sacramento Kings, he averages only 4 rebounds a game, so if he is to become a consistent force in the NBA, he will have to improve his work on the boards, but he’s so young, and could definitely become a top player if he keeps working.
13 Shortest: Yogi Ferrell (1.83m – 6’0”)
Professional sports offer us athletes of all shapes and sizes, and we get all types of stories, but Yogi Ferrell truly came out of nowhere to become a future star in this league for the Dallas Mavericks, and although he’s got plenty of room for improvement, he’s definitely got the potential to be a future All-Star. Contracts are changing by the year in the NBA, and after signing a 10-day contract in 2017, Ferrell took full advantage of it, showing that he has all the skills necessary to be a fantastic point guard going forward. Ferrell was voted to the NBA All Rookie Second Team following his break out year in 2017, and despite his short stature, it’s a name you better get used to hearing.
12 Tallest: Rudy Gobert (2.16m – 7’1”)
Defense isn’t as big a priority in today’s NBA as it was in days past, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Draymond Green and Patrick Beverley from making names for themselves for their great work on that end. When it comes to elite defenders among centers in today’s NBA, that conversation starts and almost ends with Utah Jazz stand-out Rudy Gobert. Even after the team lost Gordon Hayward to Boston this past offseason, the organization was confident they could still improve, and with a core built around rookie superstar Donovan Mitchell and Gobert, they may have a bright future yet. Gobert uses all of his 7’1” frame on the court, and has to be considered one of the brightest and most intimidating young players in the NBA today.
11 Shortest: D.J. Augustin (1.83m – 6’0”)
D.J. Augustin is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and despite the fact that he’s not recognized as a top point guard, he’s been a consistent success on whichever team he has played on during his 10-year NBA career. Sure, his numbers don’t look too great, and limited minutes and constant scenery changes over those 10 years haven’t helped, but he’s always an asset off of the bench. Standing at just 6’0” tall, that has definitely hindered his career, but playing 10 years in the NBA is never something to scoff at, and is something that most of us can only dream of.
10 Tallest: Salah Mejri (2.17m – 7’2”)
Salah Mejri is yet another role player from Europe that lands on this list, and after a stellar career all over Europe starting in 2006, Mejri made his way to the NBA in 2016, and although he hasn’t become the star that Dallas would have hoped for, he provides them with very valuable minutes off the bench. He’s got experience for the Turkish National team, and was a key part of their Bronze Medal finish in the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship, so when Dallas again become contenders, Mejri will become a key. Unfortunately he’s 31 years of age, so if Dallas can’t turn it around anytime soon, he may need to move on if he wishes for the type of success in the NBA that he has experienced overseas.
9 Shortest: Chris Paul (1.83m – 6’0”)
When it’s all said and done, CP3 could be one of the greatest point guards to ever play in the NBA, and like others, he used his height to great advantage, while maintaining the defense that made him such an elite player. He is the perfect example of a traditional Point Guard in the NBA, and despite his age and short stature, he’s playing at a very high level still, and should serve as an inspiration to all the shorter kids out there who want to succeed at a high level. With the Rockets, Paul has a very good chance of winning his first ever NBA Championship in 2018, and while he wouldn’t be the shortest player to accomplish that feat, it’s still something to be incredibly proud of.
8 Tallest: Zhou Qi (2.18m – 7’2”)
Zhou Qi is one of the best Chinese basketball players in recent memory, and while he hasn’t had the run for Houston that he may have expected when he joined the team in 2017, but at the young age of 22, he has plenty of time to improve on the talent that he already has. That talent is currently very raw however, and will take plenty of development to be able to consistently compete at the NBA level, but he’s been very successful in the CBA, winning their DPOY and Block Leader award, showing that he can be a star. Don’t expect him to be starring in the NBA anytime soon, but if he can continue to improve his offensive game in the G-League, he could become a top defensive star in the NBA.
7 Shortest: Shane Larkin (1.80m – 5’11”)
Shane Larkin is the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, and although he’s yet to find any sort of Hall of Fame success in the NBA, he’s been a valuable contributor to whichever team he has played for since 2013, whether it be in the NBA or a G-League affiliate. In 20 minutes per game, primarily coming off the bench, Larkin has averaged 6 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds per game, and while that’s not too impressive, for limited minutes, it’s quite consistent. When those minutes were increased in the European League in 2016-17, Larkin managed to average 13, 6 and 3, so it shows he has the potential, and while he may be nothing more than a bench contributor, he could be a quite valuable one if given the right circumstances in the NBA.
6 Tallest: Alexis Ajinca (2.18m – 7’2”)
Alexis Ajinca is quite an underrated player in the NBA, and the former French star has the potential to be great. Playing from the bench behind Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will never help someone break out as a star, but as a bench player, he provides valuable minutes and a great presence inside. In 13 minutes a game over his 10-year NBA career, he has barely averaged 4 rebounds a game, and that must improve until he can become a consistent force in the NBA. Still, with his 7’2” height, he can influence a game with his presence alone inside. Ajinca is out for the rest of the 2017-18 season after a patella injury, but if he can come back stronger and put consistent performances together, he could be key to the success of the Pelicans off the bench going forward.
5 Shortest: Tyler Ulis (1.78m – 5’10”)
The Phoenix Suns have one of the more promising backcourts in the NBA, led by young superstar Devin Booker, and while Tyler Ulis isn’t going to break out in the way that Booker is, he is still a very talented young player. At just 5’10" (and possibly shorter), his height is always going to work against him, and although players like Muggsy Bogues and Isaiah Thomas can succeed despite their height, it’s always going to limit someone like Ulis. As a player coming off the bench, he’s a decent player and will always have a home in the NBA, but unfortunately for him, he’s just never going to break out as the star that some people thought he might be.
4 Tallest: Kristaps Porzingis (2.21m – 7’3”)
Kristaps Porzingis is one of the brightest young stars in the NBA today, as he recently got his first All-Star game selection, and when you see the skills he displays on the court, it’s very hard to remember that he is 7’3”, the second tallest player in the NBA today. Coming from Latvia, a lot of people (Knicks fans included) doubted him, and dismissed him as just another tall European player, but in his two and a half years in the NBA, he has proven everyone wrong, and become a top star in the league. For someone of his height though, The Unicorn doesn’t rebound as well as he should, but he’s still only 21-years-old, and if he can improve that part of his game, he could go down as one of the greatest big men ever.
3 Shortest: Kay Felder (1.75m – 5’9”)
Kay Felder is just 22 years of age, but has already been with three NBA teams in his third season since coming into the NBA from Oakland, so we don’t know what his future is going to be at his height, but for someone standing at just 5’7” without shoes, making the NBA alone is a feat worth celebrating. No matter how talented you are, putting consistent performances together at such a height will always be a struggle, and if he can’t put that together soon, he may be a G-League/European League player for the near future. Many scouts believe that the current Detroit Pistons/Grand Rapids Drive player does have the ability to be a consistent player at the NBA level, but his height may always just be too big of an obstacle to overcome.
2 Tallest: Boban Marjanovic (2.22m – 7’4”)
You’ll notice that most of these tall NBA players are from somewhere in Europe, and we don’t know why they’re so much taller over there, but they don’t fall short in the talent department either, as Boban stands at a whopping 7’4”, but can still bang down low with the best of them in today’s NBA. Standing at 6’10” at just the age of 14, Marjanovic has been signed to play professional in his native Serbia, and his height combined with his talent has helped him win three MVP’s in professional ball, along with several Serbian Championships. He hasn’t hit his strides in the NBA yet, but he’s still a valuable commodity, especially at that height, and it’s only a matter of time until he becomes a star at the NBA level.
1 Shortest: Isaiah Thomas (1.75m – 5’9”)
Isaiah Thomas broke out in 2017 as one of the games top players, despite his stature, and unlike other players in basketball history who have struggled, IT4 used his size to motivate him to become better, and he’s now one of the best players in the game today. As you would have seen with some of the guys on this list, their size has actively worked against them (besides CP3), and they have ceilings as players, but Thomas still has many years left in him, and if he can pick up the momentum he created in 2017, he could be the greatest player under 6” in NBA history. There have been few players in NBA history shorter than Thomas, but we can’t help but admire how he has turned it into a positive, because he is a truly fantastic player.