If you use Google to look for NBA players who can’t dunk, the search engine results will give you 6 to 10 names, and all are point guards.
The average height of an NBA point guard ranges from 6′ to 6’3,” and the league’s average vertical jump is 35″ for this position. The size and the leap allow players to slam the ball through the hoop. NBA players are well-conditioned athletes, they have access to state-of-the-art training equipment and techniques to work out their body to be better than the average Joe.
In our opinion, all NBA players can dunk the ball.
Read on to learn more and form your opinion about non-dunking NBA players.
How Tall Do You Have to Be to Dunk in Basketball?
Dunking is a way of showboating slick moves and smashing the hoop to impress the audience, every basketball player’s dream. Unfortunately, many basketball players under 6″ give up their dream because they are short. Athletes feel this way because the average height of NBA players is 6’7″.
Guys like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Zion Williamson execute monster dunks with authority and make it look easy. But there are also short players under 6′ who can dunk, making your eye pop.
|Tyron Curtis Bogues, aka Muggsy Bogues
|Earl Antoine Boykins, aka Earl Boykins
|Anthony Rome Webb, aka Spud Webb
|Greg Alan Grant
|Keith Russel Jennings, aka Mister Jennings
|Charles Washington Criss Jr., aka Charlie Criss
|Kahlil Ameer Felder Jr., aka Kay Felder
|Kalvin Jerome Murphy, aka Calvin Murphy
|Isaiah Jerome Thomas aka Isaiah Thomas
|Nathaniel Cornelius Robinson aka Nate Robinson
A bit controversial is Muggsy Bogues because he is the shortest NBA player who can dunk at 5’3″ but add his 48″ vertical leap, and he could quickly dip the ball to a rim that is 10 feet high. Spectators swear that they saw Muggsy dunk the ball in a December 1990 game; without video evidence, we could only rely on facts.
— Tyrone Muggsy Bogues (@MuggsyBogues) July 9, 2022
Tall players don’t need to jump too high, but height alone is not enough to boost your dunking ability. The proper training and the desire to succeed can give you your first dunk regardless of size. There are other factors to consider; dunking depends on your standing reach and vertical leap.
Standing reach is the length an extended arm gets to with the feet planted on the ground. It depends on the player’s height and the arm’s measurement. It doesn’t follow those players of the same size have the same length of arms, or those taller have a more extended reach than short players, etc.
We’ve compared three players in the NBA’s rookie draft in season 2022-23 to demonstrate the disparity.
|Height w/o shoes
We used Ochai Agbaji as a reference matching him with two rookies, one with the same height and the other taller. Ochai and Hugo Besson stand at 6’ 4.5” without shoes, but there is a difference in their standing reach. The arm of Ochai is 2 inches longer, giving him an advantage in dunking the ball.
We now compare Ochai with a taller player Kendall Brown. Brown is taller by 1.75 inches but has a disadvantage of 1-inch reach to Ochai; shorter players can reach higher than their taller counterparts.
If you’re a short player a more extended reach levels the competition.
The height of the rim is 10 feet, and your standing reach doesn’t quite get you to a comfortable level in the dunking department. Fret not; your vertical jump takes care of that.
Standing reach and height are genetically inherited, while vertical jump can be trained. You can’t do anything about your size and arms’ length, but you can improve your vertical leap. You must work harder to bring your vertical jump to a dunk-worthy level if you are short.
There are two types of vertical jump, standing and maximum. Standing vertical jump is leaping from a standstill, while a full vertical jump needs a run-up before the jump. Shorter players must execute the full vertical jump to dunk the ball.
Your vertical leap needs to fill the gap between your standing reach and the rim 10 feet high; add 6 inches to make your way across the hoop to dunk easily.
The average vertical jump of people over 20 runs from 16.14 to 21.15 inches or 1.35 to 1.80 feet. If your jump falls within this range your standing reach should be between 8.7 to 9.15 feet. Data from the NBA disclose that you should be about 6’6” to have a standing reach in these ranges to slam.
That said, tall players can effortlessly dunk, and short players need an excellent vertical jump to slam. Spud Webb stands at 5’ 6” tall, but his vertical leap of 46 inches earned him the crown in the NBA’s 1986 edition of the Slam Dunk contest.
How Much of the NBA Players Can Dunk?
These eight names appeared on Google when we searched for current NBA players who can’t dunk in an NBA basketball game.
- Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
- D.J. Augustin, Los Angeles lakers
- Isaiah Thomas, Charlotte Hornets
- Raul Neto, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets
- Fred Van Vleet, Toronto Raptors
- T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers
- Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers
Although there was footage showing Patty Mills dunk in warmup and Facundo Campazzo slam in European Leagues, they never did one in an NBA game.
The ratio of non-dunking athletes to the 574 players in the 2022-23 NBA record is 1.4 percent; hence, 98.6 percent of NBA players can dunk. The non-dunking players are point guards and well-conditioned athletes who can match the average vertical leap set by the NBA at 35″.
Theoretically, the eight non-dunking point guards should be able to bring the ball above the 10’ rim. And all NBA players can dunk the ball in an official game.
Are there Any NBA Players Who Can’t Dunk?
Spud Webb is 5′ 6″ tall, and he was an NBA Slum Dunk champion in 1986. The average height of NBA players is 6′ 7″, and they are well-conditioned athletes, so every guy playing in the league can dunk with authority.
Wrong, there is a rare breed of NBA players who can’t dunk or be never seen executing one during a game.
NBA Players Who Can’t Dunk
J.J. Barea, 6’0”
J.J. Barea was one of seven Puerto Ricans to play in the NBA, signed by the Dallas Mavericks on August 17, 2006.
When you think of Barea, it’s not about dunking; what comes to mind is the flagrant foul from Andrew Bynum decking him during the 2011 playoffs, his scuffle with the Heat’s Ray Allen, or his lovely wife, the former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera.
Some footages show Barrea attempting unsuccessful dunks during training. Barrea never dunks in an NBA game, but he’s a good playmaker with a decent 3-point shot.
Steve Nash, 6’ 3”
Steve Nash is a Canadian basketball coach of the Brooklyn Nets and a former NBA player. He won numerous accolades during his playing career, including two NBA MVP awards, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Nash was chasing his first NBA Championship with Kobe Bryant in the 2012-13 Lakers squad but fell short. He is considered one of the best NBA players without a championship ring.
Videos show Steve Nash dunking during practice but never in an NBA Game.
Isaiah Thomas, 5’ 9”
Isaiah Thomas is an 11-year NBA veteran who played for 11 teams. Thomas was picked by the Sacramento Kings in the 2011 NBA draft, transferred to various teams, and is now wearing the Charlotte Hornets jersey.
There were attempted dunks in games without success. In Thomas’s rookie year, he tried to slam twice but never got enough hops for a dunk.
Who Among the Current NBA Players Can Dunk?
The NBA’s popularity can be attributed to the player’s game style, and fans notoriously loved their heroes whenever they delivered a monster slam with a high degree of difficulty.
Several names crop up when we reminisce about the dunks in the NBA 2021-22 season, but what team and who’s the player that got the most dunks?
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Houston Rockets: 547 dunks – Cristian Wood: 120 dunks
The 2021-22 Houston Rockets wound up at the bottom of the standings but finished on top in the dunking department with 547.
Christian Wood led the way with 120 dunks and, together with his 100+ 3-pointers, earned him a ticket to the 100-100 club. Teammate Kenyon Martin Jr. followed closely with 114, suitable for the top-15, joined by five Rockets players with 30 or more dunks. The Rockets and Hornets are the two teams with seven players having 30 or more dunks.
Charlotte Hornets: 531 – Miles Bridges: 118 dunks
Miles Bridges led the Hornets in total dunks for the third time in four seasons. Mason Plumlee crashed into the top-20 with 108 dunks; five teammates joined the two to have seven players with 30 or more dunks. The Hornets team had 531 total dunks.
Cleveland Cavalier: 501 dunks – Jarett Allen: 164 dunks
Jarett Allen’s 164 dunks were fourth in the NBA’s dunk tally, and Evan Mobley’s 151 was good for the eighth spot. The duo had a combined 315 dunks to equal the third-place finish of the 2014-15 Cavaliers team composed of Tristan Thompson (117), Timofey Mozgov (91), and LeBron James (88).
Utah Jazz: 442 dunks – Rudy Gobert: 233 dunks
Half of the Jazz season dunks can be attributed to the “The Stifle Tower” Rudy Gobert. The guy has a standing reach of 9’7″; his hand will kiss the rim with a vertical leap of 5″. Gobert holds the most NBA dunks for four straight years. His 233 dunks in the 2021-22 season are ridiculous compared to his 2018-19 dunks of 306.
New York Knicks: 431 dunks – Mitchell Robinson: 178 dunks
Mitch Robinson was one behind second placer Giannis Antetokounmpo for the most dunks in NBA 2021-22. Most of Robinson’s field goal tries were dunk attempts for a high 58.3 field goal percentage, better than DeAndre Jordan’s 53.8, the only other player above 50 percent. The combined 280 dunks from Robinson’s 178 and Obi Toppin’s 102 are 65 percent of the Knicks’ total slams this season.
Wrapping Things Up: NBA Players Who Can’t Dunk (And the Players that Can)
In a professional league like the NBA, you’ll only find the best basketeers in the world. It will be tough to find NBA players who can’t dunk. Spud Webb, at 5′ 6″ was the Slam Dunk Champion in 1986, he made up for his lack in height with a vertical leap of 46″. It takes a lot of deep muscle exercise to improve the verticals. We believe that all NBA athletes can dunk the ball.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.