The 13 Shortest Current NBA Players

The 2023-2024 NBA season features several talented players under 6’1″ competing at the highest level of professional basketball and proving that height isn’t everything when it comes to athletic success. While the average NBA player height is around 6’7″, short basketball players in today’s game utilize other skills like speed, shooting, ball handling, and basketball IQ to excel.

The Shortest NBA Players in the 2023-2024 Season

Standing tall in the NBA isn’t everything! The 2023-24 season sees some impressive players proving height isn’t a barrier. Markquis Nowell, a 5’8″ point guard for the Toronto Raptors, takes the crown as the shortest. He’s closely followed by 5’9″ Jacob Gilyard of the Memphis Grizzlies and Kennedy Chandler, also at 5’9″ for the Grizzlies. These players show heart, agility, and skill can triumph over inches on the court.

Markquis Nowell (5′ 8′′)

The diminutive Markquis Nowell was undrafted out of Kansas State in 2022. He earned a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns thanks to his lightning quick speed, disruptive defense, and confident shot making ability. Nowell averaged 16.6 points and 4.9 assists per game in the 2022 summer league, showing he could compete against taller opponents. He will look to defy the odds and carve out a role with the Suns as one of the shortest athletes in the NBA.

Jacob Gilyard (5′ 9′′)

Jacob Gilyard (5′ 9′′)

Jacob Gilyard also went undrafted after a stellar college career at Richmond that saw him become the DI men’s career leader in steals. The young point guard signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls and will provide pesky perimeter defense and elite ball handling as one of the shortest players ever in NBA statistics.

Jordan Walker (5′ 11′′)

After being named the 2022 SEC Co-Freshman of the Year at UAB, Jordan “Jelly” Walker signed a two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors. The high-scoring point guard will attempt to replicate his college success as a diminutive bucket getter capable of highlight reel plays.

Jordan McLaughlin (5′ 11′′)

Now in his third NBA season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jordan McLaughlin has emerged as a reliable backup point guard behind D’Angelo Russell. He averaged 5.0 points and 3.8 assists in just 18.2 minutes per game during the 2021-2022 season, providing valuable minutes as an undersized floor general.

Chris Paul (6′)

A surefire Hall of Famer, 16-year veteran Chris Paul has defied the odds during his legendary career. The “Point God” led the league in assists on four occasions and has career averages of 18.4 points, 9.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. The 6-time All-Star point guard stands as the NBA’s all-time assists leader among players 6’0″ and under.

Fred VanVleet (6′)

Fred VanVleet (6′)

After going undrafted in 2016, Fred VanVleet earned a roster spot on the Toronto Raptors before developing into a core piece alongside Kyle Lowry. The 2022 All-Star and 2019 NBA Finals champion has become an elite shooter and scorer capable of erupting for big numbers despite undersized measurements for a starting guard.

Jose Alvarado (6′)

As an energetic rookie, Jose Alvarado became a fan favorite with the upstart New Orleans Pelicans in 2022. The hustle and intensity he demonstrated on defense earned him the nickname “Grand Theft Alvarado.” He finished in the 98th percentile in steals and will look to build on his promising two-way abilities.

Tyus Jones (6′)

With excellent court vision and basketball IQ, Tyus Jones serves as the primary backup point guard to Ja Morant on the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 assists in just 21.2 minutes per game during the 2021-2022 season while posting an impressive 3.28 assist to turnover ratio.

Kyle Lowry (6′)

The 6-time All-Star Kyle Lowry plays with a tenacious, physical style despite being one of the shorter players at his position. Lowry averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game during his 9 seasons leading the Toronto Raptors. His veteran leadership was a key factor in Toronto’s 2019 championship run.

Patty Mills (6′)

Patty Mills (6′)

After winning a bronze medal with Australia at the 2022 Olympics, sharpshooter Patty Mills joined the Brooklyn Nets and averaged 11.4 points while shooting 40% from three-point range. The 13-year veteran and 2014 NBA champion provides valuable floor spacing, hustle, and leadership.

Trevor Hudgins (6′)

After becoming the 2021-22 NCAA Division I leader in three-pointers made, Trevor Hudgins signed a two-way contract with the Houston Rockets as an undrafted rookie. The mid-major star from Northwest Missouri State will showcase his elite shooting stroke and crafty scoring ability.

Carlik Jones (6′)

Carlik Jones played college basketball at Radford before transferring to Louisville. He went undrafted in 2021 before signing a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Jones will have the opportunity to prove himself capable of running an NBA offense.

Davion Mitchell (6′)

Nicknamed “Off Night” in college for his lockdown defense, Davion Mitchell was selected 9th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2021 NBA draft. The stout guard was named Naismith Defensive Player of the Year during his final season at Baylor. Mitchell will work to translate his defensive prowess to the pro game.

Succeeding as an Undersized Underdog

Succeeding as an Undersized Underdog

The shortest NBA players have utilized different skills, strategies, and paths to defy the odds and succeed in a league full of giants. While height is generally an advantage in basketball, natural talent, determination, and mastering the fundamentals can help players overcome physical limitations.

  • Elite ball handling allows them to create space from bigger defenders. Players like Chris Paul and Fred VanVleet possess nimble handles and crafty moves.
  • Lightning quick speed puts pressure on defenses. Fast players like Markquis Nowell can blow by opponents using their quick first step.
  • Deceptive change of pace and start-stop moves keep defenders off balance. Kyle Lowry is a master of changing speeds and directions.
  • Craftiness around the rim lets small guards sneak in creative layups. Tyus Jones has an array of finessed finishes against size.
  • Pick and roll mastery opens up scoring opportunities. Jose Alvarado excels at navigating on and off ball screens.
  • Pull up shooting forces defenders to play tight on the perimeter. Patty Mills and Fred VanVleet punish this with their shooting range.
  • Pesky defense bothers opponents using active hands and lateral quickness. Chris Paul’s steal rate indicates his defensive prowess.
  • Veteran leadership provides mentorship to teammates. Kyle Lowry is considered one of the NBA’s most impactful leaders.

To reach the NBA at under 6 feet tall requires immense determination to overcome challenges. Many undersized players earn roster spots after going undrafted or starting in the G League. Height limitations mean they must work tirelessly to master skills like shooting, defense, and basketball IQ. Once in the league, their perseverance and underdog mentality helps them exceed expectations. While most MVPs and All-Stars tower over them, the shortest players in today’s NBA serve as inspirations that any height can find success with talent and work ethic.

Final Thoughts

The 2023-2024 season features several talented guards under 6’1″ defying the odds in pursuit of NBA success. While lacking in height, they make up for it with speed, shooting, defense, basketball IQ, and leadership intangibles. Their presence is a testament that exceptional skill development and determination to overcome physical limitations can allow players of any size to excel. The shortest athletes in the NBA demonstrate how one’s stature does not define their ability to compete at the highest level.

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