Unveiling the Shortest NBA Player of All Time and Today

Basketball players are usually very tall. But some very short players have also played in the NBA. The shortest NBA player of all time was Muggsy Bogues. He was 5 feet 3 inches tall. That is the shortest height for any NBA player ever. Even players that short could still score points and win games. Today’s shortest player is Markquis Nowell basketball player for the Toronto Raptors. He is 5 feet 7 inches tall. This article will talk more about these players and other very short NBA players in history and today. It shows that small players can be successful too.

The Shortest NBA Players in History

At just 5’2″, Eddie Gordon holds the record for the shortest player to ever suit up in the NBA. Gordon played for the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) during part of the 1950-1951 season. 

Due to his tiny stature, many people did not believe Gordon could compete against professional basketball players who were often a foot taller. However, Rochester took a chance on Gordon after being intrigued by his outstanding offensive ability displayed in New York summer leagues.

While Gordon ultimately only appeared in 6 total NBA games that year, he proved doubters wrong by managing to score 4 total points against giants in the key. Newspapers during that time period praised Gordon for “his dribbling prowess and magical, miniature moves.” His brief NBA career demonstrated that sometimes size matters less than sheer determination and natural talent.

A few other exceptionally short men also hold distinctions for their short-lived NBA careers:

  • At 5’3”, rookie guard Keith Jennings had a 3-year NBA stint from 1992-1995. Despite his height disadvantage, Jennings wowed with no-look passes and perimeter shots.
  • Greg Grant manned point guard at 5’7” during 1995-1997. His ball handling skills helped him stay competitive against towering opponents.
  • Slater Martin, a 5’10” guard, won an NBA title with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1952. Martin proved himself a champion despite giving up a foot or more to many rivals.

But perhaps no tiny player made a bigger mark than the exceptionally short, exceptionally skilled Muggsy Bogues.

Top 10 NBA Players with the Shortest Stature in the 2023-2024 Season

They may come up short in height, but these players demonstrate skills and passion can outweigh size at basketball’s top level. Here are the 10 shortest players currently in the NBA:

RankNAMETEAMHEIGHT
1Markus HowardDenver Nuggets5’10”
2Markquis NowellMinnesota Timberwolves5’7″
3Ty JeromeGolden State Warriors6’0″
4Tremont WatersWashington Wizards5’10”
5Fred VanVleetToronto Raptors6’0″
6DJ AugustinLos Angeles Lakers6’0″
7Keon JohnsonPortland Trail Blazers6’0″
8Brandon GoodwinChicago Bulls6’0″
9Tyler UlisFree Agent5’10”
10Jalen BrunsonNew York Knicks6’1″
For the most reliable and current NBA player information, consult the official NBA.com rosters.

At the top of the heap, Markus Howard of the Nuggets holds down the shortest player label at 5’10”. Right behind is Timberwolves’ speedster Markquis Nowell, measuring just 5’7″.

Warriors’ guard Ty Jerome, Fred VanVleet, DJ Augustin and others show skills can outweigh height. Undersized players like Brandon Goodwin and Tyler Ulis patiently await the next opportunity.

Jalen Brunson uses shiftiness from his 6’1” frame to lead the Knicks. Together, these diminutive stars continue proving that in basketball, heart trumps height.

Muggsy Bogues – The Shortest NBA Player of all Time With the Biggest Impact

Muggsy Bogues - The Shortest NBA Player of all Time
Muggsy Bogues – The Shortest NBA Player of all Time

At just 5’3”, Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues stands as the shortest player to feature in a substantial, impactful NBA career. After going undrafted out of Wake Forest in 1987, the tiny point guard signed with the then-struggling Washington Bullets. 

With the Bullets, Bogues soon earned praise for his pass-first style of play and speedy drives to the net. Though opponents dwarfed him, Bogues awed with his quickness, ball control, court vision, and masterful passing.

In 1989, Muggsy joined the Charlotte Hornets expansion franchise where he enjoyed his best seasons. Despite standing nearly two feet shorter than the average NBA player, Bogues used his diminutive stature as an advantage. 

He could dart through the tallest defenders’ legs, whip unexpected bounce passes around their waists, and generally disrupt towering opponents accustomed to smaller matchups. Bogues also shot free throws with an unusually high arc that made it challenging for big men to predictably swat away.

Some key Muggsy Bogues stats and career facts:

  • Played a total of 14 NBA seasons (one of the longest careers ever for an under six feet player)
  • Led the NBA in assists per game during the 1990-91 season
  • Started over 500 games at point guard through 1996
  • As a Charlotte Hornet, became a hugely popular player locally and nationally
  • Finished career with over 6,000 assists while scoring over 9,000 points

Bogues demonstrated that while being taller often is better on the basketball court, a sufficiently talented “small” player can in fact excel in the sport’s top league.

Muggsy Bogues
Muggsy Bogues

Height Exceptions – Rules That Nearly Kept These Players Out of the NBA

For much of its history, the NBA and NCAA enforced rules ostensibly requiring players meet certain height minimums. Until the 1970s, virtually all drafted players measured at least six feet tall, with anyone shorter considered unfathomably tiny for professional basketball. Of course, that perception began to slowly change due to exceptionally skilled shorter players that refused to accept blanket height discrimination.

Here are some historic NBA draft policies that nearly prevented certain players from entry, before talent won out over tape measures:

1970s: The NBA required all players meet a minimum six feet height requirement until disbanding this policy in 1971. Slater Martin (5’10”) only managed to join the NBA because his drafting team exaggerated his height to meet the era’s six feet eligibility limit.

1970s: NBA teams often rejected players six feet or shorter due to antiquated beliefs about size. Scouts who witnessed Calvin Murphy dominate college basketball told the Niagara point guard, “You’re a hell of a nice kid…enjoy the rest of your life”, believing he could never excel in the pros. Murphy eventually convinced the Rockets to draft him despite measuring only 5’9”, and went on to a Hall of Fame career.

1980 and Onward: Current NBA rules require all drafted players present reach measurements of at least seven feet including arm span and standing vertical leap. However, teams have flexibility on whether to actually exercise that draft eligibility rule. Nate Robinson demonstrates this modern flexibility after entering the NBA in 2005 at just 5’9”, several inches below the eligibility measurement standard.

The NBA has thankfully become more progressive about enabling shorter basketball superstars to play regardless of antiquated size notions. Height can serve as some advantage in basketball; however skills ultimately triumph over tape measure marks in determining quality players.

Shortest Players in the NBA Right Now

The 2021-2022 NBA season features fewer players under six feet than during Muggsy Bogues’ era. As nutrition and training knowledge have expanded, current professionals now average around six and a half feet tall. However, a few current NBA stars still stand far shorter than the towering team averages.

Isaiah Thomas measures the shortest in today’s NBA at just 5’9”. The point guard boasted an All-Star 2016-2017 season with Boston where he averaged almost 29 points per game in spite of his small stature. Though hip injuries sidelined Thomas recently, his scoring abilities against much larger defenders remain highly respected across the sport.

At 5’10”, current Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Patty Mills reads dwarf-like towards his giant teammates Durant and Aldridge. After career years recently in San Antonio, Mills signed with Brooklyn before the 2021-2022 season. His heady style of play demonstrates once again how skill beats size when coupled with speed and high basketball IQ.

Fred VanVleet plays slightly taller at 6 feet flat for the Toronto Raptors but cedes 4-8 inches regularly versus opponents. Lacking center-like height fails to slow down VanVleet, a critical starter averaging over 35 minutes and 20 points each night. His defense, 3-point shooting, and knack for reading plays makes him an asset regardless of measuring smaller than most.

The average male in North America stands significantly taller than just six feet. Yet diminutive athletes like Thomas, Mills, and VanVleet still manage to excel among the world’s biggest, fastest basketball stars. They prove that while being taller brings some advantages in basketball So, here a question rises that does playing basketball make you taller? Embracing disadvantages through clever technique improvements can outweigh genetics.

Why Height Matters in Basketball – And When It Doesn’t

Why Height Matters in Basketball
Why Height Matters in Basketball

On its face, basketball appears positioned to strongly favor exceptionally tall players. After all, those blessed with more height can generally jump higher, grab more rebounds and blocks, shoot over smaller defenders with ease, and dominate through sheer physicality. 

No surprise then that the average NBA player height has risen over time to around six and a half feet today. By comparison, male adult average heights in North America measure around five feet nine inches tall.

However, pure height fails to represent the only ingredient required for excelling in basketball. Shorter players can overcome genetic size limitations through intensified skill development focused on:

Speed and Agility – Small fast players like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry penetrate defenses more easily. Their quick lateral movements also allow them to play grittier perimeter defense against taller shooting guards and forwards.

Ball Handling and Passing – Muggsy Bogues displayed phenomenal ball control and slick passes throughout his career which overwhelmed larger opponents through skill.

High Basketball IQ – Knowing where to move on the court and where to pass comes easier for some shorter players after needing to think strategically to compensate for size. Players like Ricky Rubio and Mike Conley demonstrate these innate court smarts regularly through masterful point guard play.

At the end of the day, size certainly stands as one advantage certain basketball players leverage over others. But skill ultimately determines success playing against the world’s greatest competition. And skills can always improve substantially through effort – unlike genetic height limits players face.

Exploring the Benefits of Being a Shorter Player in the NBA

Facing extreme height disadvantages against opponent starting lineups averaging around six feet six inches tall, shorter NBA players might appear doomed from the outset. Prevailing wisdom assumes taller equals better in basketball, with height conveying rebounding, blocking, and scoring advantages.

However, competing under six feet tall also brings certain strengths if leveraged properly. More diminutive NBA players exhibit rare gifts like quickness, ball handling skills, court visions, and phagocytic defense positioning allowing them to thrive as elite talent.

1. Speed and Agility

While taller players rely more on sheer wingspans underneath, shorter guys like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry operate best in the open court. Their low centers of gravity and compact frames allow quicker cuts, driving lanes sliced through big men, and swift transition bursts up and down the floor. Quicker lateral movements also enable more effective on-ball harassment against taller offensive players.

2. Ball Control and Dribbling Prowess

Short fast players tend to develop advanced handle technique out of necessity. Low dribbles and between-the-legs crossovers prove more difficult for giants to disrupt thanks to their naturally lower bounce reach. supreme dribblers like Kyrie Irving, Allen Iverson, and Isiah Thomas all leveraged their small-but-shifty styles while floating among NBA towers.

3. Passing Lanes and Court Vision

Sneaking quick no-look feeds through tiny passing seams comes more naturally to smaller players constantly surveilling full court views. Muggsy Bogues, Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul and other diminutive guards make advanced reads and deliver pinpoint assists. Their lower vantage point helps scan wider angles.

4. Gritty Effort and Leadership

Lacking innate physical dominance, sub-six-footers must outhustle opponents for loose balls, fight harder through screens, take charges more willingly, and lead vocally. Isaiah Thomas, Jalen Brunson, Kyle Lowry and their peers make up for vertical limits with lionhearted determination admired by teammates.

At the end of the day, skills make the player regardless of height. And sometimes operating closer to the hardwood grants unique skill advantages unlocked only by the game’s greatest undersized athletes in history.

Best Short NBA Players

Best Short NBA Players
Best Short NBA Players

Allen Iverson: Allen Iverson was one of the best short NBA players ever. He was only 6 feet tall. That is very short for basketball. But he was so fast and skilled. He could score against anyone. Iverson led the NBA in scoring four times. He was an 11-time All Star too.

Chris Paul: Chris Paul is 6 feet 1 inch tall. He uses his small size well. He is one of the best passers and leaders. Paul is very fast with excellent ball handling. He averages over 9 assists per game. Many rate him the best small point guard ever.

Spud Webb: Spud Webb was just 5 feet 7 inches tall. But he won the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest with amazing jumps. Webb played several quality NBA seasons too. He used speed and hops to compete against giant opponents.

Muggsy Bogues: Muggsy Bogues was the shortest NBA player at 5 feet 3 inches tall. But he was a great passer with speed. Bogues averaged double digit assists for a season once. He played in the NBA for over 10 seasons too.

Who is the Shortest NBA Player to Dunk?

Spud Webb was the shortest player to dunk in an NBA game. He was only 5 feet 7 inches tall. That is very short for an NBA player. Most players are over 6 feet tall.

In 1986, Spud Webb was playing in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He surprised everyone by dunking the ball. Players and fans were shocked to see such a short player dunk.

His dunk help make him win the Slam Dunk Contest that year. It became one of the most famous dunks ever.

Other very short players have dunked too. Nate Robinson dunked many times. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall. But Spud Webb at just 5 foot 7 was shortest ever to dunk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the shortest NBA player currently?

As of today, January 14, 2024, the shortest NBA player on the active roster is actually Markquis Nowell, a guard for the Toronto Raptors, who stands at 5 feet 7 inches tall.

Who is the shortest player in the NBA history?

Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues was the shortest ever NBA player at just 5 feet 3 inches tall.

Who is the 6 foot tall NBA player?

Many current players like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry are 6 feet tall. Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors is 6 feet 0 inches.

Who is the 7 5 player in the NBA?

Tacko Fall who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers is 7 feet 5 inches tall, one of the tallest players today.

Who is the 2 shortest NBA player?

After Markus Howard, Markquis Nowell of Minnesota is next shortest at 5 feet 7 inches.

Who is tallest NBA player ever?

Tallest ever is Manute Bol and Gheorghe Muresan both at 7 feet 7 inches tall.

Conclusion

Gordon was the shortest player ever. He was only 5 feet 2 inches. Muggsy Bogues was the best short player with the biggest impact. Though just 5 feet 3 inches, he led the league in assists once.

Today Markus Howard is shortest at 5 feet 10 inches. Markquis Nowell is next shortest at 5 feet 7 inches. Size helps in basketball to block shots and rebound. But smaller players can still thrive with speed, ball handling and effort. Allen Iverson excelled at 6 feet tall with ruthless scoring. Spud Webb won dunk contests despite being 5 foot 7. Heart and drive matters more than height. Short players like Chris Paul and Fred VanVleet continue to prove that skills can outweigh measurements. Good things can come in small packages if you work hard.

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