There is a perception that you have to be huge in order to mix it up in the NBA and whilst there is an element of truth that height helps in the quest to reach the elite of basketball it is far from the only factor that is important. Here we look at five players that prove you don’t need to be 6ft plus to make it in the NBA.
Number 5. Isaiah Thomas, 5’9
Kicking off our list of the players that prove you don’t need to be 6ft plus to make it in the NBA is Isaiah Thomas. He has struggled since being forced to leave the Boston Celtics in 2017 but his legacy in the league shouldn’t be tarnished by the last few years; his time in Boston was something we have never seen before from a 5’9 point guard.
The two-time NBA All Star was able to put up 28.9 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game during his best season in the league. That was enough to see him finish third in the league in points per game. Unfortunately, he suffered a tear in his hip that took away the explosiveness he needed to work around his size disadvantage. You can’t forget that Celtics spell though; Thomas was one of the greatest guards under 6’0 tall to ever play the game.
Number 4. Terrell Brandon, 5’11
Next up is the 5’11 Terrell Brandon. Despite his height, he was named an All-Star twice and averaged 19.5 points, 6.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds during his best season. It’s not one standout season that made Brandon the player he was though; that can be attributed to his remarkable consistency.
In 11 years in the NBA Brandon represented three different sides with the Cleveland Cavaliers getting the majority of the years between 1991 and 1997. It was the latter half of his career with the Bucks and Timberwolves (and a couple of years at the backend of his Cavs career) where he really shone though. He had an eight season spell where the worst output he had was game averages of 12.4 points, 5.4 assists and 1.6 steals.
Number 3. Muggsy Bogues, 5’3
In all honesty, Muggsy Bogues could easily have found himself top of the list of the players that prove you don’t need to be 6ft plus to make it in the NBA. Unfortunately, for us, his stats and longevity fall short – forgive the pun – of some posted by the other names we look at. Still, the numbers he was able to deliver at just 5’3 are absolutely insane.
He is by far the shortest player in the history of the NBA but he still averaged 10.8 points, 10.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game in his most impressive season. In fact, his assists haul puts him in the top 25 of all-time whilst he’s the franchise leader in that stat and steals for the Hornets. That’s pretty impressive given he’s over a foot shorter than the average NBA player.
Number 2. Damon Stoudamire, 5’10
The silver medal of our list goes to Damon Stoudamire. He was only 5’10 but was able to survive in the NBA for 13 seasons. He made a quick start to life amongst the elite too as the ‘Mighty Mouse’ scooped the Rookie of the Year award in 1996. It’s fair to say that his first year in the league was just the start of a rather remarkable career.
He is one of just 36 NBA players in history to total more than 11,000 points, 5,000 assists and 3,000 rebounds across four different teams in the league. Stoudamire might have gone even better than that had his playing time not dipped towards the end of his career. Even so, he still managed to contribute in a positive manner for every team he represented.
Number 1. Calvin Murphy, 5’9
Outside of Houston, many of the younger generation have probably never heard the name Calvin Murphy; do not let that take away from his incredible career in the NBA. Despite only standing at 5’9, Murphy was able to dominate the league and, although he only received one All-Star nod, he managed to etch his name into the Hall of Fame.
The Houston Rockets legend is largely lauded as a very talented scorer. For 11 consecutive seasons he sank over 1,000 points, which is a sensational scoring run. Over his career he averaged 17.9 points per game, which isn’t too far south of the 20.4 points he averaged in his best season. 5’9 or not, Murphy deserves every bit of credit that has been thrown his way over the years.
There you have it, the players that prove you don’t need to be 6ft plus to make it in the NBA. If you want a more complete list, check out the top 10 shortest players ever in NBA history: https://edge.twinspires.com/nba/top-10-shortest-players-in-nba-history/