Having a height advantage obviously grants you an edge over your rivals in basketball. A longer wingspan usually translates into better defense, and athletic traits can help you shoot over your defender, alter shots, and many other little things that’ll make the game easier for you.
Even so, not always a taller player mans a more skilled player. We’ve seen some players like Hasheem Thabeet struggle in the league despite being physically gifted, either because they don’t fully develop their skills or because they lack the muscle to deal with the burden of an NBA season.
But if we were to take the highest player to ever suit up for a given position in the league, what would they record look like? Could they actually compete for an NBA Championship? Let’s break it down as we discuss the tallets NBA player by position lineup:
PG: Magic Johnson (6’10”)
Well, there aren’t many things we can say about Magic Johnson that we haven’t said before. Magic is – hands down – the greatest point guard of all time, as he even holds the highest assists-per-game average at 11.2, as well as 4 seasons leading the league in assists.
Magic was the ultimate point forward. His height and wingspan gave him the versatility to play and guard all five spots on the court. He also had a height advantage in the post vs. pretty much every single point guard trying to match up with him.
SG: Tracy McGrady (6’8”)
Tracy McGrady may have a strong shot at being the most talented player to never win an NBA Championship. He was a walking bucket throughout most of his career. Sadly, injuries constantly got the best of him and he didn’t find much success in the playoffs.
Prime McGrady was unguardable. He was stronger, bigger, faster, and way more athletic than the average player. He was also a savvy ball-handler and could play on and off the ball. Few players have excelled that much in isolation like he once did.
SF: Kevin Durant (7’0”)
Kevin Durant constantly lied about his height but we all know he’s a seven-footer. In fact, that’s just one of the countless things that makes him so special and such a unique player. That has helped pave his Hall-Of-Fame kind of resume.
Durant is a shooting guard trapped in the body of a center. He’s a prolific scorer that can just shoot over every other guy in the world. He’s also learned how to use his wingspan as a top-tier defender and rim protector. He’s one of the greatest ever.
PF: Ralph Sampson (7’4”)
Younger fans may not remember him but there was a time when Ralph Sampson was actually one of the best big men in the league. His versatility and mobility helped him excel at both the power forward and the center spots throughout his career.
Sampson obviously didn’t have the range of modern power forwards but he was a dominant rebounder and scorer and could even create off the post on a big-to-big kind of game. He’s clearly overshadowed by Hakeem Olajuwon – and for good reason – but he’s also one of the best players in Rockets’ history.
C: Manute Bol (7’7”)
Manute Bol led the league in blocks per game twice despite never averaging more than 26 minutes per game. In fact, he holds a career average of 3.3 blocks per game in just 18.7 minutes, which translates to 6.4 per 36 minutes or 8.6 per 100 possessions.
Manute’s physical struggles were clear. He couldn’t hold his own vs. stronger big men but his skill set was unique and unprecedented. He could swat back-to-back shots, push the break, and then hit a pull-up three-pointer in one sequence.
Note: Pic credit goes to Sideline Access.