Unveiling the Shortest NBA Player of All Time and Today (in 2024)

Height has long been a coveted trait in the National Basketball Association (NBA), with towering giants like Victor Wembanyama and Joel Embiid dominating the league. However, the game of basketball is not solely about height; skill, determination, and persistence play pivotal roles in shaping a player’s success.

This article delves into the fascinating world of the shortest NBA players, both past and present, unveiling the remarkable stories of those who have defied the odds and etched their names in basketball history.

Who is the Shortest NBA Player Right Now?

Who is the Shortest NBA Player Right Now?

In the current NBA landscape, Jacob Gilyard stands tall as the shortest player, despite his diminutive 5’8″ stature. At just 10 inches shorter than the average NBA height, this 25-year-old point guard has carved out a niche for himself on a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets and their G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

Gilyard’s journey to the NBA is a testament to his unwavering determination and impressive collegiate career at Richmond University. After going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, he immediately found a home with the Memphis Hustle and Memphis Grizzlies, proving that height is no barrier to success.

List of the Current Shortest NBA Players

While the NBA is dominated by players towering over 6’5″, a select few have defied the odds and secured their spots on NBA rosters this season, despite being under 6’1″. Here is a list of the 13 shortest NBA players in the 2023-2024 season, all tied at 6’0″:

RankNameTeamHeight
1Jacob GilyardBrooklyn Nets5’8″
2Royce O’NealePhoenix Suns5’9″
T-3Jose AlvaradoNew Orleans Pelicans6’0″
T-3Mike ConleyMinnesota Timberwolves6’0″
T-3Aaron HolidayHouston Rockets6’0″
T-3Kyle LowryPhiladelphia 76ers6’0″
T-3T.J. McConnellIndiana Pacers6’0″
T-3Jordan McLaughlinMinnesota Timberwolves6’0″
T-3Davion MitchellSacramento Kings6’0″
T-3Xavier MoonLos Angeles Clippers6’0″
T-3Chris PaulGolden State Warriors6’0″
T-3Zavier SimpsonMemphis Grizzlies6’0″
T-3Fred VanVleetHouston Rockets6’0″

Source: Accurate and up-to-date NBA roster data from NBA.com

1. Jacob Gilyard – 5’8″ (Brooklyn Nets)

As the shortest player in the NBA, Jacob Gilyard’s journey is truly inspiring. Holding the impressive title of the all-time NCAA career steals leader, his defensive prowess earned him a spot on the Memphis Hustle’s opening night roster, paving the way for his eventual call-up to the Brooklyn Nets.

2. Royce O’Neale – 5’9″ (Phoenix Suns)

Royce O’Neale’s path to the NBA was unconventional, as he battled it out in Germany following his college career at Denver and Baylor. However, his perseverance paid off when he earned a spot on the Utah Jazz’s NBA Summer League team, eventually making his official NBA debut in 2017 and now suiting up for the Phoenix Suns.

T-3. Jose Alvarado – 6’0″ (New Orleans Pelicans)

Nicknamed “Grand Theft Alvarado” for his steal-creating ability, Jose Alvarado’s defensive skills are a key asset for the New Orleans Pelicans. His tenacity and relentless pursuit of the ball make him a formidable opponent on the court.

T-3. Mike Conley – 6’0″ (Minnesota Timberwolves)

A seasoned veteran and NBA All-Star, Mike Conley brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the Minnesota Timberwolves. His scoring records with the Memphis Grizzlies speak volumes about his impact on the game, proving that height is not a limiting factor for success.

T-3. Aaron Holiday – 6’0″ (Houston Rockets)

Aaron Holiday, a first-round pick, brings his All-American recognition from his UCLA days to the Houston Rockets, contributing as a skilled guard. His ability to create scoring opportunities and facilitate plays has made him a valuable asset to the team.

T-3. Kyle Lowry – 6’0″ (Philadelphia 76ers)

A six-time NBA All-Star and NBA champion, Kyle Lowry’s leadership and experience are invaluable assets to the Philadelphia 76ers. Known for his tenacity on both ends of the court, Lowry’s ability to draw charges and make clutch plays has cemented his place among the greats of the game.

T-3. T.J. McConnell – 6’0″ (Indiana Pacers)

T.J. McConnell’s journey to the NBA is a testament to perseverance. After going undrafted out of Arizona, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers and eventually broke the NBA record for most steals in a half, with an impressive 9 steals, showcasing his defensive prowess.

T-3. Jordan McLaughlin – 6’0″ (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Undrafted out of USC, Jordan McLaughlin’s journey through the NBA G League to a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves is a true display of his talent and determination. His ability to contribute at the highest level highlights the importance of perseverance and hard work in the pursuit of success.

T-3. Davion Mitchell – 6’0″ (Sacramento Kings)

Davion Mitchell, an NCAA champion and ninth overall draft pick, has already made his mark on the NBA. Winning the NBA Summer League MVP and being named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team, Mitchell’s future looks bright as he continues to showcase his skills with the Sacramento Kings.

T-3. Xavier Moon – 6’0″ (Los Angeles Clippers)

Xavier Moon is a shooting guard on a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Ontario Clippers of the NBA G League. After playing international professional basketball for five years, he joined the Clippers organization in 2021, proving that perseverance and dedication can open doors to the NBA, regardless of height.

T-3. Chris Paul – 6’0″ (Golden State Warriors)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Chris Paul, or “CP3,” has accumulated numerous accolades, including two Olympic gold medals and selection to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Despite his relatively short stature, Paul’s court vision, playmaking abilities, and competitive spirit have propelled him to the upper echelons of the game.

T-3. Zavier Simpson – 6’0″ (Memphis Grizzlies)

After four seasons at the University of Michigan, Zavier Simpson’s journey to the NBA took him through a brief stint with the Los Angeles Lakers before making his mark in the NBA G League with the Oklahoma City Blue. His perseverance paid off when he finally made his NBA debut with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2022, and he now dons the jersey of the Memphis Grizzlies.

T-3. Fred VanVleet – 6’0″ (Houston Rockets)

Fred VanVleet, undrafted out of Wichita State, has proven his worth in the NBA through his leadership and skill as a point guard. His ability to create scoring opportunities and facilitate the offense has made him a valuable asset to the Houston Rockets.

Who is the Shortest NBA Player of All Time?

While the current NBA roster boasts a handful of shorter players, one name stands out as the shortest to ever grace the hardwood: Muggsy Bogues. At a mere 5’3″, Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues defied all odds and carved out an incredible 14-season career, primarily with the Charlotte Hornets.

Bogues was a force to be reckoned with, using his speed and agility to navigate the court and set up plays with remarkable precision. His career average of 7.7 assists per game is a testament to his playmaking abilities, while his 1.3 steals per game showcase his tenacious defensive skills.

Despite his diminutive stature, Muggsy Bogues left an indelible mark on the NBA, battling head-to-head with the tallest players and proving that height is not the sole determinant of success in basketball.

Other Notable Short NBA Players

Throughout the NBA’s history, several athletes have redefined what it means to be a professional basketball player, showcasing that height does not limit one’s capacity for greatness. Here are some of the most notable short NBA players who have made significant contributions to the league:

  • Spud Webb: At 5’7″, Spud Webb’s victory in the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest is the stuff of legends. Defying expectations with his incredible leaping ability and dunking skills, Webb etched his name in NBA history with one of the most iconic moments in the sport.
  • Earl Boykins: Despite standing just 5’5″ and weighing a mere 133 pounds, Earl Boykins impressed with his scoring and playmaking abilities during his career. His agility and skill on the court proved that size is not a barrier to success in the NBA.
  • Nate Robinson: Standing at 5’9″, Nate Robinson is a three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion. His explosive athleticism, energy, and fearless approach to the game made him a fan favorite and a formidable opponent, regardless of his height.

Are There Advantages of Being a Shorter Player in the NBA?

While shorter NBA players are naturally at a disadvantage in terms of reach, making it challenging to get shots off, defend shooters, and pull down rebounds, those who make it to the league have figured out how to leverage the unique advantages that their stature offers.

  • Speed: Their quickness allows for rapid transitions up and down the court, often outpacing taller opponents during fast breaks.
  • Agility: With the ability to change direction swiftly, shorter players can navigate through defenses, creating opportunities and avoiding blocks with ease.
  • Lower Center of Gravity: This provides better balance and stability, which is crucial for maintaining control during drives and playing tenacious defense.
  • Endurance: Shorter NBA players often possess superior endurance, allowing them to maintain a high level of play throughout the game without tiring as quickly as larger players.
  • Ball Handling: With their lower stance, they tend to have better ball control, making them excellent dribblers and playmakers.
  • Steals and Defense: Their proximity to the floor makes it easier to steal the ball and create turnovers, which can be critical in changing the game’s momentum.
  • Perimeter Shooting: Many shorter players develop strong perimeter shooting skills to compensate for their inability to score inside among taller defenders.

Skills Development for Shorter Players

While height is an uncontrollable factor, skill development and mindset are key areas that shorter players can focus on to level the playing field and turn perceived disadvantages into strengths. By honing the following skills, shorter players can maximize their potential:

  1. Master Ball Handling: Shorter players can utilize their natural proximity to the ground to enhance their dribbling and protect the ball from taller defenders.
  2. Perfect Shooting Technique: A consistent and accurate shot, especially from long-range, can compensate for the inability to penetrate taller defenses. Former players suggest shooting hundreds of shots daily from various positions to improve.
  3. Increase Basketball IQ: Understanding the game deeply allows players to make smarter plays. Studying game film can help anticipate opponent moves and find the best positions to take advantage.
  4. Develop a Quick First Step: A rapid first step can create space from defenders, a tip frequently given by professional trainers to shorter players looking to improve their offensive game.
  5. Focus on Physical Conditioning: Anybody can be the hardest worker on the floor. Enhanced endurance and strength training can give an edge in matchups, as suggested by sports performance coaches.
  6. Learn to Draw Fouls: Smaller players can use their speed to draw contact, an often-recommended strategy by former NBA guards to get to the free-throw line.

By focusing on these key areas, shorter players can maximize their potential and make a significant impact on the court, regardless of their height.

FAQs

Can a short player dunk in the NBA?

Yes, short NBA players have successfully dunked before. One of the most notable examples is Spud Webb, who, at 5’7″, won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1986, defying all expectations with his incredible leaping ability and dunking skills.

Can being short be an advantage in basketball?

Yes, being shorter can actually offer advantages in basketball. Shorter players often benefit from greater speed, agility, and a lower center of gravity, which can be advantageous on the court. Additionally, their proximity to the floor can make them more effective at ball handling, creating steals, and drawing fouls.

How do you get good at basketball if you are short?

To excel in basketball as a shorter player, it is essential to focus on developing skills where height is not a determining factor. This includes mastering ball handling, honing shooting techniques, increasing basketball IQ, developing a quick first step, and emphasizing physical conditioning. Training should emphasize these areas to compensate for any height disadvantages.

Conclusion

Height may often grab the spotlight in the NBA, but the remarkable stories of the shortest players serve as a reminder that skill, determination, and persistence are the true keys to success in basketball. From Jacob Gilyard, the current shortest active player, to Muggsy Bogues, the shortest NBA player of all time, these athletes have defied the odds and proven that greatness comes in all shapes and sizes.

While height undoubtedly offers advantages on the court, shorter players can leverage their unique strengths, such as speed, agility, and a lower center of gravity, to create opportunities and outmaneuver taller opponents. By honing their skills, increasing their basketball IQ, and maintaining a relentless work ethic, shorter players can not only compete but also thrive in the NBA.

As fans and enthusiasts of the game, we should appreciate the remarkable journeys of these shorter players and the contributions they have made to the sport. Their stories serve as an inspiration, reminding us that with unwavering determination and a willingness to defy conventions, anything is possible on the hardwood.

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