What is the average height of NBA players?
9 mins read

What is the average height of NBA players?

When we think about basketball players, we often picture these towering giants who dominate the court with their remarkable height. It’s a stereotype that’s been ingrained in our minds for as long as we can remember. However, there’s a fascinating evolution happening beneath the surface of the NBA that many may not be aware of. If you’re curious, just like Scott Fujita was, you’re about to embark on a journey into the realm of NBA player heights, and you might be surprised by what you discover. In this article, we’ll explore the intriguing transformation in the average height of NBA players and unveil how this statistic has been changing over the years. Welcome to a world where height isn’t always what it seems on the basketball court.

What is the Average Height of an NBA Player?

During the 2019-20 NBA season, an intriguing milestone was reached as the average height of NBA players stood at 6’6″. This marked the lowest average height the league had seen in the past four decades, signifying a significant shift in player dimensions compared to the previous decade.

It’s important to note that this figure is considerably higher than the average height of the typical American man, which is around 5’9 1/2″. This stark 8-inch difference underscores the exceptional height of NBA athletes. The reduction in average height can be partially attributed to changes in how the NBA measures player height.

Starting from the 2019-20 season, NBA teams are now required to report their players’ true height (excluding any height added by shoes) to their medical professionals. Furthermore, various external factors can influence a player’s reported height.

An interesting and light-hearted example of this phenomenon is the playful exaggerations that occasionally surface. For instance, during lighthearted moments, Kevin Durant might humorously claim to be 7’7″ tall, despite his actual height of 6’9″.

Exploring the Evolution of NBA Player Heights by Position

Point Guards:

In 1952, the average height of NBA point guards stood at a modest 6 feet, cementing the perception that they were the shortest and most compact athletes in the league. However, as the years rolled on, the landscape began to change. By 1987, the typical NBA point guard had grown to a commanding 6 feet 3 inches.

One standout anomaly in this group was Magic Johnson, who, at 6 feet 9 inches, defied convention. His towering stature was notably uncommon for a point guard.

Conversely, Muggsey Bogues, standing at just 5 feet 3 inches, represented the other end of the spectrum. Despite his diminutive stature, his impact on the court was undeniable. Height was increasingly less indicative of a guard’s skill, with basketball IQ and playmaking abilities taking precedence.

Over time, point guards’ heights have seen significant fluctuations, ranging from 6 feet to 6 feet 3 inches, reflecting the dynamic nature of this position.

Shooting Guards:

Back in the 1950s, shooting guards and point guards shared similar heights, with shooting guards typically being slightly taller. In the 1951-52 season, the average height of NBA shooting guards was 6 feet 1.3 inches. However, by 1955-57, it had risen to 6 feet 3 inches.

The landscape changed dramatically after the 1990-91 season, with a notable surge in the height of shooting guards. It reached an impressive 6 feet 5 inches and has fluctuated around this mark in recent years.

Interestingly, recent times have witnessed a shift in the balance of power between point guards and shooting guards. Point guards have begun to demonstrate superior performance, agility, and height, exemplified by players like Ben Simmons, who stands at 6 feet 10 inches, a full foot taller than Corey Brewer.

Small Forwards:

While the term “small forwards” may sound paradoxical, this position plays a pivotal role in the game. The height of these players can be likened to the length of NBA players. In the 1952-53 season, small forwards averaged 6 feet 4 inches in height.

As time passed, the height of small forwards gradually increased, reaching 6 feet 8 inches by the 2015-16 season. Today, the average height stands at 6 feet 7 inches, signaling a substantial growth in the height of small forwards.

Power Forwards:

The role of power forwards has evolved significantly since 1952. In the past, they excelled in rebounding and post-up plays, often being among the tallest NBA players. However, modern power forwards now focus on three-point shooting, with a 327 percent increase in three-point shooting percentage.

Height-wise, power forwards generally fall within the range of 6 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 11 inches. What has seen significant variability is their strength, with a 10-pound weight loss over the past four years. This weight reduction has enhanced their agility and speed.


NBA centers were historically the tallest players on the roster, but as the league shifts toward a more perimeter-focused game, their impact has diminished. In 1950, the average center stood at 6 feet 8 inches, gradually rising to 6 feet 11 inches. The peak height for NBA centers was recorded in the 1995-96 season at 6 feet 11.9 inches.

Some standout examples of extraordinarily tall centers include Yao Ming, Shawn Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and Gheorghe Muresan, all towering over 7 feet.

Furthermore, the weight of centers has been on the rise over time, with a brief dip between 1996 and 2004 when it averaged 229 pounds. This increase in weight has contributed to their improved performance, flexibility, and speed on the court.

Have NBA Players Always Been This Tall?

The towering presence of NBA players has always captivated basketball fans, and while rigorous training is undeniably a crucial component of their success, genetics plays an even more significant role in determining their exceptional height.

Many NBA players who reach staggering heights at a young age and exhibit a passion for basketball tend to gravitate towards the court, where they often go on to achieve remarkable feats. It’s the convergence of genetics and early interest that often shapes the destiny of these players.

Consequently, it can be argued that a certain stature is intrinsic to the nature of an NBA player. To delve deeper into the fascinating evolution of height among NBA players, one can explore historical records and footage.

The annals of basketball history reveal a dynamic trend in the average height of players. Over the years, from 1952 to the present day, there has been an approximate three-inch increase in the average height of NBA players. This growth can be attributed to the constant refinement of their nutrition and training routines, which naturally result in physical growth.

The upward trajectory of player height continued until it reached its zenith in 1987, with an average height of 6’7″. Remarkably, this figure has remained relatively stable in recent years, possibly due to alterations in NBA measurement standards.

While the mean height, on the whole, has not witnessed drastic shifts since 1987, there has been a noticeable escalation in the weight of players across all positions. The pinnacle of this average weight was recorded in 2011 when NBA players averaged 221 pounds. This statistic underscores the emphasis on muscular development, strength, and athleticism within the league.

However, there has been a paradigm shift in recent years, as basketball evolves into a more perimeter-oriented sport that prioritizes speed. Consequently, players have begun to shed some weight in comparison to the 2011 benchmark, aligning themselves with the changing demands of the game.

Closing Thoughts on the NBA

The NBA, where the average player towers at an impressive 6’7″, looms large in the realm of sports, casting a shadow over the stature of the average citizen. However, it’s not just the physical stature that holds our fascination in today’s NBA; it’s the intangible aspects that have taken center stage.

In this ever-changing landscape of professional basketball, the focus has shifted from mere inches to the artistry of the game itself. Players are no longer solely defined by their height; instead, they are celebrated for their ability to command the court and their basketball IQ. Additionally, the significance of location plays a pivotal role, as it presents a diverse set of challenges for athletes.

These captivating developments and the continual evolution of the NBA not only capture our imaginations but also serve as a reminder of the privilege of being a part of this global basketball phenomenon.

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