There’s been a lot of buzz around the NBA regarding the true height of the players, as if it would make a difference in how good they are or the impact they can have on the court.
Obviously, NBA players are way taller than the average human being, and having a size advantage over their rivals can put them on a better position depending on where they’re on the court or what they’re trying to do, but it’s not like an inch or two can define a player.
Athleticism, vertical leap, wingspan and several other things may end up being more important than height itself when measuring a player’s physical tools, but today, we’re going to talk about the best NBA player by height:
5’9” Isaiah Thomas
Runner Up: Chris Clemons
Isaiah Thomas fought his way to the league. He was the last pick of his Draft, was traded around the league, and people always count him off because of his height. Still, he kept grinding and even made it to the All-Star Game. Now, he’s trying to get his career back on track after an injury-riddled couple of seasons, and he’s got the heart and talent to pull it off.
5’10” JJ Barea
Runner Up: Jared Harper
JJ Barea may not look like your average NBA player, but he can hoop, and he’s proved it by becoming one of the most reliable sixth men in the last decade. Barea can take bigger opposition to school, and makes up for his lack of size with top-notch hustle, strength, and basketball IQ. Also, he pulls up really fast to get shots up from deep before his defender can get in front of him.
5’11” DJ Augustin
Runner Up: Carsen Edwards
DJ Augustin has never brought much to the table when it comes to defense, but he’s more than capable of putting up points on the scoreboard. His scoring ability has granted him a nice career in the NBA, bouncing from team to team as a solid backup point guard. He may not be a great playmaker or the most athletic guy in the league, but he sure knows how to get to his sweet spots.
6’0” Kemba Walker
Runner Up: Kyle Lowry
There were a lot of doubts regarding Kemba Walker’s ability to fill in Kyrie Irving’s shoes, but needless to say, he’s put his doubters at ease. Walker is one of the most prolific scorers of the league right now, and he’s also a terrific playmaker. He’s finally in a position to succeed now with the Celtics, so he’s in for an All-Star season for sure.
6’1” Donovan Mitchell
Runner Up: Trae Young
Donovan Mitchell took the league for assault since day one, and he’s one of the biggest Draft steals we’ve seen in a while. He embraced a leadership role with the Denver Nuggets despite his youth, and it’s clear that he’s going to be a superstar in this league for years to come. Mitchell may lack an inch or two, but makes up for it with top-tier explosiveness and athleticism.
6’2” Damian Lillard
Runner Up: Kyrie Irving
Damian Lillard plays every game like it was a Game 7, and that’s what makes him so special. Lillard can shoot lights out from everywhere on the court, and always have the determination to prove he’s one of the best scorers in the league. He may not get the recognition and credit he deserves, but he’ll never stop working to lead his Blazers to success.
6’3” Stephen Curry
Runner Up: Russell Westbrook
Stephen Curry was overlooked throughout his whole career. He wasn’t big enough, he wasn’t strong enough, he wasn’t athletic enough, etc. Needless to say, he proved all his doubters wrong. He’s the greatest shooter in the history of the game, a 2-time MVP, and a 3-time NBA Champion. He may struggle to stay in front of bigger guards in defense, but he sure knows how to break havoc on his rivals’ defensive schemes.
6’4” D’Angelo Russell
Runner Up: Jamal Murray
It took him a while, but D’Angelo Russell finally came around and proved why everybody was so high on him coming out of Ohio State. He’s one of the best pick-and-roll scorers in the league, can play both guard spots, create off the dribble, run the offense and make his teammates better. He’s just scratching the surface of his potential, so look out for him.
6’5” James Harden
Runner Up: Devin Booker
James Harden must be the most skilled, yet most hated player in the NBA. He literally scores over 30 points per night, yet people find a way to disrespect him. He’s one of the greatest offensive talents in the history of the game, and like it or not, he’s bending the rules and finding loopholes to exploit his skill set. Just stop hating on him and start enjoying the show.
6’6” DeMar DeRozan
Runner Up: Zach LaVine
DeMar DeRozan is one of the best shooting guards in the league, yet he’s struggled to prove that he’s an alpha dog. He’s a great complement that could truly help a Championship contender, but needs to be put in a position to succeed. Also, he’s one of the most athletic players on his position as well, and knows how to use his height advantage over most defenders by punishing them in the post.
6’7” Kawhi Leonard
Runner Up: Luka Doncic
Kawhi Leonard may not only be the best NBA player of his height, but also the best player in the world. Hell, he may even be one of the best 10 players to ever lace them up. Leonard is dominating every aspect of the game on ways we hadn’t seen in years. He’s the best two-way player in the league and it’s not even close, as he’s shown by leading two different teams to NBA Championships.
6’8” Paul George
Runner Up: Jayson Tatum
It’s crazy to think Paul George was listed as a shooting guard when he first entered the league, as he’s got the height to play at the four. George is a strange combination of raw talent, skills, and a privileged body, so there’s no wonder why he’s one of the league’s top-tier two-way players. He can guard four spots on the court, and has the offensive skills to light up the best defenders in the league as well.
6’9” LeBron James
Runner Up: Pascal Siakam
There aren’t many things we could say about LeBron James that haven’t been said before. We’re talking about a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent, a guy that changed the game and brought the point-forward back. James can play one through five just like Magic Johnson did. He can score like the best of them, and is arguably the smartest player of all times. His negative record in the Finals is the only thing holding him back from being the GOAT.
6’10” Kevin Durant
Runner Up: Anthony Davis
There were a lot of stories regarding Kevin Durant’s true height, but it turns out he’s 6’10” – or so they say. Durant has the skills of a guard in the body of a center, a combination you’ll rarely see on a basketball hardwood. With his height, he can shoot over everybody in the world, and his length allows him to be a monster in the defensive end as well. He could retire tonight and still be a top-10 player ever.
6’11” Giannis Antetokounmpo
Runner Up: Karl-Anthony Towns
Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps getting better and better. Also, he seems to get bigger, faster, and even stronger. That’s a scary thought. Giannis has the handles of a guard, the length of a superhero and the determination to be the best player on the floor. He just doesn’t take any plays off, and that’s one of the things that make him so great. He’s not called the Greek Freak just because it sounds cool.
7’0” Joel Embiid
Runner Up: Nikola Jokic
Joel Embiid is a nice combination of an old-school big man, a seven-footer with a nice face-up game that can dominate in the post, with a modern center that can drive, push the ball up the court, and even knock down shots with a sweet mid-range game. He’s also a terrific rim protector and has the skills to be the best two-way big man in the league, but needs to be more disciplined with his diet and focus entirely on basketball.
7’1” Rudy Gobert
Runner Up: Jakob Poeltl
Rudy Gobert is one of the most improved players in the league right now. He put a lot of work on his offensive game and is no longer a liability at that end of the floor. He’s a rim-running threat that can finish a lob in one end and then swat two shots in the other. His presence alters a lot of shots and messes with the entire offensive rhythm of opposing teams, so he’s a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
7’2” Luke Kornet
Runner Up: Moses Brown
Well, there aren’t many 7’2” players in the league – or humans that are that tall, actually – but Luke Kornet has proven to be a somewhat reliable backup. He’s got a sweet shooting stroke from deep, so he can get hot from time to time as a streaky scorer. Still, he’d be much better if he added more muscle so he could hold his own in the post against stronger opposition.
7’3” Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis quickly put his doubters at ease with his outstanding play. He’s a scoring threat from all three levels that can twist some ankles with his dribble, pull-up from the three-point territory or punish inside the restricted area. He needs to do a better job at boxing out and put more effort on both sides of the glass, but he’s got the skills to be one of the league’s future superstars.
7’4” Boban Marjanovic
Boban Marjanovic holds the record for the highest PER in league history, for what it’s worth. He’s unable to log many minutes because of what makes him so great: his physique, but still, he’s able to do a lot on a limited basis. Marjanovic is a freak of nature, but he’s also incredibly smart and hard-working, and that’s why he’ll have a long career in this league.
7’5” Tacko Fall
Some people argued Tacko Fall was never going to play a minute in the league, but he’s worked his way into the NBA, and might end up playing a valuable role on the team a couple of years from now. Most NBA players look like children next to him, but he’s not just in the league because of his height, as he’s turned into a defensive specialist thanks to his instincts and timing.