It’s no secret that basketball is a sport dominated by tall players. In fact, the average height of an NBA player is just over 6’6″. And before the “small ball” era, the average height was even taller. In 1987, the league average was 6’7″. So why are basketball players so tall? What advantages does height provide in this sport? In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of being tall and why height matters in basketball.
Does Height Really Matter in Playing Basketball?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. A player’s height provides several advantages in basketball that can be the difference between winning and losing. So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of being tall in this sport:
Reach: Tall players have a longer reach than shorter ones, giving them an advantage on offense and defense. On offense, players with a longer reach can better shoot over defenders and grab rebounds. On defense, players with a longer reach can block shots and disrupt passing lanes.
Height Advantage: Obviously, being taller than your opponent gives you a significant advantage in basketball. Players taller than their opponents can see over them on defense, making it easier to steal the ball or block shots. On offense, players with a height advantage can shoot over defenders, grab rebounds, and see the floor much better than shorter players.
Intimidation: Simply put, taller players are more intimidating than shorter players. This can be a significant advantage on both ends of the court. On defense, taller players can intimidate their opponents and make them less likely to take shots. On offense, taller players can intimidate defenders and make them more likely to commit fouls.
What is the Average Height of a Basketball Player?
The average height of basketball players in the NBA is 6’6″. This may not seem like a lot, but when you compare it to the average height of people in the United States (5’9″), it’s clear that there is an advantage to being tall in basketball. In fact, the taller you are, the more benefits you have in this sport.
In fact, pundits and coaches say the ideal size for point guards is more or less 6’3″. They are the ones who need to have a good blend of speed, agility, and shooting. Shorter point guards have the advantage of being able to stop on a dime and change directions quickly. They also tend to be quicker than taller players.
However, players who don’t expect to grow to 6’3″ don’t have to fret. Some of the best players could dominate the game even if they weren’t very tall. For example, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and the so-called Point God, Chris Paul, used their height to their advantage using their quickness, speed, and basketball IQ. In fact, some of the shortest basketball player in the NBA, Mugsy Bogues, was considered to be an excellent role player. Spud Webb, who stood at 5’6″, was even able to become a respected professional in the NBA and a winner of the Slam Dunk event in 1986.
As for centers, the position that is often the tallest in their respective teams, the average height is around 7’0″. They are the ones who need to be big and robust to battle for rebounds, set screens, and protect the paint.
So if you’re considering playing basketball, don’t be discouraged if you’re not the tallest person on the court. There are still plenty of ways to be successful in this sport. However, don’t take your height for granted if you are tall. Instead, use it to your advantage and dominate the court!
Why Do Basketball Players Grow So Tall?
There are a few reasons why basketball players tend to be taller than the average person:
- Genetics plays a significant role.
If you come from a family of tall people, you’re more likely to be tall yourself.
- Basketball players tend to start playing at a young age
The earlier you start playing, your body has more time to react, grow, and develop according to the type of actions a player puts it through.
- They lift weights, run sprints, and do plyometric exercises to make themselves more robust and faster.
This also helps muscle growth that alleviates the stress on the skeletal system giving it the opportunities to grow.
- Furthermore, athletes are often on strict diets and follow a strict sleep schedule.
These factors help promote a player’s physical development, especially during their formative years. So, in a way, a basketball player’s lifestyle helps him achieve the skills and body of a good basketball player.
So if you’re wondering why basketball players are so tall, it’s simply because they have a combination of genes and lifestyle that promotes physical development.
And if you’re considering playing basketball, don’t worry if you’re not the tallest person on the court. There are still plenty of ways to be successful in this sport. Just remember to use your height to your advantage!
Do Basketball Players Take Growth Hormones?
While we can probably assume that most NBA players are tall due to genetics, there’s no way to completely say they’re all tall by natural means. The existence of human growth hormone (HGH)
There is no concrete evidence that basketball players take growth hormones to gain an advantage. However, there are several stories of players caught taking banned substances such as steroids and other performance enhancers.
Players accused of taking HGH include His Airness Michael Jordan himself. Fans speculated that since his parents or grandparents were not 6-footers, MJ’s height must have been achieved naturally. However, it’s important to note that there is no concrete evidence that he took HGH. But, because of Jordan’s competitive nature, people began to speculate that his unusual height resulted from HGH.
In recent years, however, the NBA has initiated a randomized performance-enhancing drug (PED) test on players and has found several to be using banned substances. For example, the Hawks’ star forward, John Collins, has tested positive for a growth hormone stimulating drug GHRP-2. On the other hand, Wilson Chandler of the Nets was found to be using Ipamorelin – an HGH that helps in fat loss and muscle gain.
So, do basketball players take growth hormones? It’s hard to say for sure. However, there is certainly a possibility that some players are using banned substances to gain an advantage.
The debate is also raging on whether HGH helps players grow beyond what their genetics dictate. Some scientists believe that the HGH merely helps players develop to their natural limits quickly during puberty or until they hit their growth plates. But on the other hand, HGH for adults makes it easier for them to bulk up and lose weight. So, the HGH debate isn’t really one that’s talking about making players taller; it’s about how they make players have an unfair advantage in terms of conditioning.
Can Playing Basketball Help You Grow Taller?
If you’re wondering if playing basketball can help you grow taller, the answer is maybe. While playing basketball won’t necessarily make you grow taller, it can help you reach your full potential height.
Basketball players are active individuals playing more than 40 hours a week. The exercise helps promote natural HGH production in the body and can lead to an increase in height. In addition, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are also crucial for proper growth and development.
Furthermore, basketball players put a lot of time and effort into their training. They lift weights, run sprints, and do plyometric exercises to make themselves stronger and faster. They’re also promoting healthy growth by stretching their spine and strengthening their growth plate. So in a way, the exercises that dedicated basketball players do in their youth help them grow a little more than if they were sedentary.
5 Tallest Players in the NBA
Now that we’ve discussed why basketball players are tall and whether playing basketball can help you grow taller, let’s look at some of the tallest players in the NBA. Here are some of them:
1. Gheorghe Mureșan
The tallest player to ever play in the NBA, the Romanian player has been considered one of his generations’ better role players. He even won the Most Improved Player award in 1996. He stood at 7’7″. He averaged 9 pts, 6 rebs, and 1.48 blks per game.
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2. Shawn Bradley
Bradley was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft. His early draft paid off well as he became one of the top blockers in the league at number 15 with a total of 2119 blocks throughout his career. It’s not a stretch to say he used his 7’6″ height well. After retiring, he even let scientists from BYU conduct a study on his DNA. You can read the journal article titled Common DNA Variants Accurately Rank an Individual of Extreme Height by John Kauwe. Throughout his career, he averaged 8 pts, 6 rebs, and 2.5 blks per game.
3. Yao Ming
A Chinese basketball legend, Yao Ming is considered one of the best international players of all time. And definitely one of the best NBA centers that have ever hit the hardwood in any era. Even Shaquille O’Neal, the most dominant scoring center ever lived, has even admitted that Yao was a force in the NBA. He averaged 19 pts, 9 rebs, and 2 blks per game over the course of his 9-year career. And while his block averages weren’t exactly anything to write home about, his presence in the middle of the court was enough to deter slashers from attacking the basket. As a result of his illustrious career, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Check out other tall Asian basketball players here.
4. Manute Bol
A Sudanese-born American player, Manute Bol is considered one of the best shot blockers of all time. He once set the record for most blocked shots in a season with 397 blocks in 1985. This record will, later on, be broken by another player on this list. He stood at a neck-busting 7’7″ to come tied with Gheorghe Mureșan as the tallest man to ever play in the league. Manute averaged 3 pts, 4 rebs, and 3 blks per game.
5. Chuck Nevitt
A journeyman player, Chuck Nevitt is best known for being one of the tallest players in the history of the NBA. He played for several teams throughout his career, including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets.
Wrapping Things Up: Why are Basketball Players Tall?
Taller players have an easier time shooting over shorter defenders, they have a more enormous wingspan, making it harder for opponents to shoot over them, and they’re able to grab more rebounds.
Therefore, players who make it to the NBA are typically tall individuals. The league height average, in fact, is 6’6″, way above the national average of 5’9″.
There are many reasons why basketball players are tall. Some have to do with genetics, some with the environment, and some with their physical training and exercises. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: being tall definitely gives you an advantage on the court. And that’s why height matters in basketball.
Just by looking at the list of the tallest players in the league, it’s pretty apparent how much height really matters in the game. There’s one all-time great, and the rest are all tremendous role players known to impact the game just by being on the court.
Furthermore, tall players at the guard and forward positions already have a natural advantage against their peers, so they’re often better scorers or outstanding defenders.
In the end, it’s no doubt that height is a significant advantage in basketball. However, it’s not the end-all-be-all advantage that ensures success in the league. For example, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant had average heights. Success in basketball is still primarily defined by a player’s physical gifts, talents, and, most importantly, work ethic.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.