What is the Average Height of an NBA Player?

    Most people have played basketball in some form, and most people know that height is a valued asset in the sport.

    I played center in high school standing 6ft2 ¾ and later in life interviewed two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, who looked me directly in the eye during our conversations when he played for the Phoenix Suns.

    Nash, a “tall” guy at 6ft3 by regular human standards, is well below the average NBA height.

    Keep reading as we break down the average NBA player height by position and teams. We’ll also analyze the impact of height when it comes to making it to the NBA as well as success once a player has arrived.

    Two-time MVP Steve Nash
    Image: Twitter/GarageGamedaySports

    Average Height of NBA Players

    The average height for an NBA player is about 6ft6 ½.

    With the league constantly adjusting for rules changes and defensive schemes, players today are valued for their versatility more than just their height.

    The traditional five starting spots – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center – now come with options not necessarily dependent on average NBA height for these positions.

    The average height for NBA players actually has decreased by a fractional amount since the 1990s.

    That trend has helped player personnel directors, general managers and coaches push a more positionless brand of basketball that highlights versatility rather than strictly a player’s height.

    Average Height and NBA Positions

    We’ll break down the average height of NBA players and mention any notable players and their height.

    1. Point Guard

    Hall of Famer Allen Iverson
    Image: Twitter/TheRookieFR

    The average height for point guards is about 6ft2 ½.

    The point guard is the engine that makes an offense hum, and controlling the ball via dribbling, on-court IQ, and accurate passing is paramount.

    To that end, the point guards tend to be closer to the floor – shorter – than their teammates.

    The shortest players, by position, on the court are still nearly half a foot taller than the average man walking the planet today.

    The greatest point guards include 6ft1 floor general John Stockton, who played in more than 1,500 games, missing only 22 during his 19-year career.

    Fellow Hall of Famer, 6ft star Allen Iverson, showed speed, playmaking skills and almost single handedly began the era of mix tapes with his logic-defying athleticism and shooting ability.

    Among the greatest point guards in history, and an anomaly to the shortest starting position, Magic Johnson stood 6ft8.

    Current king of the guards Steph Curry is 6ft3 and, like Nash, a two-time NBA MVP.

    2. Shooting Guards

    Continuing with the “versatility” theme, a shooting guard can be a hybrid player who takes on point guard duties when needed.

    Two prime examples in the current NBA are Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, who is 6ft6, and James Harden of the Los Angeles Clippers, who stands 6ft5.

    Booker, with a non-traditional middle name (Armani), plays on a team without a traditional point guard and fills the point guard role frequently despite being among the NBA’s top scorers.

    Again, being versatile (and not necessarily tall), is a key to success.

    Harden, a shooting guard/point guard, now has taken over the primary point guard duties with Los Angeles. He is 6ft5.

    Two of the very best NBA players of all time, Michael Jordan (6ft6) and Kobe Bryant (6ft5), were primarily shooting guards.

    3. Small Forwards

    Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant
    Image: Twitter/SixringsofsteeI

    This should come with an asterisk next to “Small” because the game’s best small forwards include 6ft9 stars Larry Bird and LeBron James.

    NBA small forwards average just under 6ft7 in today’s game.

    It’s the closest measurement to “average,” in terms of NBA player height, of any position.

    The 6ft11 star from the Phoenix Suns, Kevin Durant, is listed as a small forward and power forward (as well as shooting guard!).

    He’s a prime example of the need for positional versatility, and his championship-winning career underscores a strong case for teams to find more of these guys.

    Easier said than done, of course, since Durant is quickly nearing the top 10 in all-time NBA scoring.

    4. Power Forwards

    These guys are the enforcers, the players who are asked to do the dirty work, be physical, set hard screens and score regularly near the basket.

    Height is important, but bulk is also a key to finding leverage that allows power forwards to put themselves in position to rebound and score.

    At an average height of around 6ft8 ½, the power forward plays a vital role in a team’s success – especially during the playoffs when things become more physical.

    The prototype power forward, 6ft9 Karl Malone, was a teammate of a prototype point guard (John Stockton, mentioned above) and the two combined for unrivaled success.

    Malone’s teams made the playoffs every year of his 19-year NBA career.

    The power forward can be the heart of an NBA team.

    Malone scored nearly 25 points per game over his long career and grabbed more than 10 rebounds per game.

    Today’s power forwards include Milwaukee’s former NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who, at almost 7ft, poses a problem for anyone trying to match up with him.

    In fact, Antetokounmpo is listed at Basketball Reference as “Power Forward, Small Forward, Point Guard, and Shooting Guard” in his bio.

    5. Centers

    Victor Wembanyama (left) and Chet Holmgren
    Image: Twitter/JohnEwing

    The position that carries the most recognized NBA players is one that certainly exceeds the average height for basketball players.

    The average height of NBA centers today is 6ft11, with key attributes now including 3-point shooting and perimeter defense.

    The very best in the game’s history – Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – were taller than 7ft.

    They dominated on offense, but always within 15 feet of the basket. They were also asked to stay down low on defense (near the basket) and defend the other center.

    Today, outside shooting is becoming a requirement for centers.

    Oklahoma City’s 7ft4 Chet Holmgren and San Antonio’s 7ft5 Victor Wembanyama are already having an impact from 3-point range in their respective rookie seasons.

    Lacking the bulk to push people around, they use height to specialize at shot-blocking and long-distance shooting, creating a nightmare matchup for opposing teams.

    Does Size Matter in the NBA?

    NBA teams that exceed the average height for NBA players don’t necessarily have an advantage.

    The best teams are those with talent, height, and versatility.

    In fact, to illuminate the height vs team success question, we point to a current model that shows the variable nature of the equation: Of the tallest teams in the league, two are among the worst in terms of wins and losses, while one is the Denver Nuggets, who are the defending NBA champions.

    While size is important, it does not portend success — but height can provide an advantage if starting from scratch.

    In fact, NBA teams have increased their awareness of tribes in Africa whose men average 6ft6 or more in height.

    Already, there are many from the continent playing in the NBA.

    Height can certainly be a resume-builder, but victory is found most frequently when teams devise game plans to fit their players – the tall and the not-so-tall.

    And that’s the long and short of it.

    Jay Dieffenbach
    Sports Betting Expert

    Jay is a Sports Betting Writer at Techopedia.com, and has been working in US sports for more than 20 years. He's worked for Daily Racing Form, the Arizona Republic, The Athletic and FanDuel among other sports and gambling positions.