Unveiling the Shortest NBA Player of All Time and Today

Height has long been prized in the NBA, with towering players like Victor Wembanyama and Joel Embiid dominating the league. It’s easy to overlook the shorter players who have defied the odds and made it to the highest level. Skill, determination, and persistence ultimately matter more than sheer size when it comes to basketball success.

This article will unveil the shortest NBA player right now, provide a comprehensive list of the current shortest NBA players, explore who is the shortest NBA player of all time, examine the advantages of being a shorter player in the NBA, and offer insights on key skills for shorter players to develop.

Who is the Shortest NBA Player Right Now?

Who is the Shortest NBA Player Right Now?

At just 5’8″, Jacob Gilyard of the Brooklyn Nets holds the impressive title of the shortest player in the NBA for the 2023-2024 season. Despite his diminutive stature, Gilyard’s journey to the NBA is a testament to his tenacity and skill.

After going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, Gilyard quickly found a home with the Memphis Hustle and Memphis Grizzlies, thanks to the impressive defense he showcased while at Richmond University. His stellar play earned him a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets, allowing him to suit up for either the NBA team or their G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

Read More : Who Invented Basketball? The History of Basketball

List of the Current Shortest NBA Players

In today’s NBA, only a small handful of the league’s 536 athletes stand under 6’1″. Most players tower well above 6’5″. A select few have proven that height is not an insurmountable barrier, making their mark on NBA rosters this season despite their shorter stature.

Here is a table listing the 10 shortest NBA players in 2024, with 10 of them tying at an even 6’0″ in height:

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: NBA.com for accurate and up-to-date NBA roster data

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

Jacob Gilyard holds the impressive title of the all-time NCAA career steals leader. His defensive prowess and tenacity on that end of the court earned him a spot on the G-League’s Memphis Hustle’s opening night roster, paving his way to the NBA.

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

After his college career at Denver and then Baylor, Royce O’Neale took his talents overseas to Germany. He eventually earned a spot on the Utah Jazz’s NBA Summer League team, impressing enough to make his official NBA debut in 2017. O’Neale is now a key contributor for the Phoenix Suns.

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

Nicknamed “Grand Theft Alvarado” for his impressive steal-creating ability, Jose Alvarado’s defensive skills have been a key asset for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. His talent for disrupting the offensive flow makes him a valuable role player.

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

A seasoned veteran, Mike Conley is an NBA All-Star point guard with a long history of sportsmanship and team leadership awards. Before joining the Minnesota Timberwolves, he spent 12 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and became the team’s all-time leading scorer with his consistent offensive production.

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

Aaron Holiday, a first-round pick by the Indiana Pacers out of UCLA, brings All-American recognition to the Houston Rockets. The skilled point guard has continued developing his offensive game at the NBA level.

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

A six-time All-Star and NBA champion, Kyle Lowry’s leadership and experience have been invaluable assets for the Philadelphia 76ers. He represented the United States at the 2016 Olympics, earning a gold medal. While some criticize him as the biggest “flopper” in the NBA, there’s no denying Lowry’s ability to expertly draw charges.

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

After going undrafted out of Arizona, T.J. McConnell signed with the Philadelphia 76ers and worked his way into a consistent role. In 2021, he etched his name into the record books by breaking the NBA record for most steals in a half with 9 steals.

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

Undrafted out of USC, Jordan McLaughlin’s journey through the G League to a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves is a testament to his perseverance and talent as a point guard.

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

As an NCAA champion and 9th overall draft pick, Davion Mitchell has already made his mark by winning the NBA Summer League MVP and being named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team in 2021. The Sacramento Kings have high hopes for this young talent.

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 their G-League affiliate, the Ontario Clippers. He played international professional basketball for five years before joining the Clippers organization in 2021.

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

Commonly known as “CP3”, Chris Paul is celebrated as one of the greatest point guards ever. His extensive list of accolades includes numerous awards, two Olympic gold medals, and selection to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. At 38 years old, Paul remains one of the oldest active players and continues dishing out assists at an elite level.

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

After four seasons at the University of Michigan, Zavier Simpson took the G League route with the Oklahoma City Blue before eventually making his NBA debut with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2022. He’s now on a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies.

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

Undrafted out of Wichita State, Fred VanVleet has earned his way into the NBA through sheer determination and skill as a point guard. He was named to his first NBA All-Star Game in 2022 after solidifying himself as the Toronto Raptors’ starting point guard for several seasons. VanVleet is now a key part of the Houston Rockets’ rebuilding efforts.

Who is the Shortest NBA Player of All Time?

Who is the Shortest NBA Player of All Time?

While the players mentioned above are currently the shortest in the NBA, Muggsy Bogues stands out as the shortest player in NBA history at an astonishing 5’3″ tall. Despite his stature, Muggsy Bogues had a remarkable 14-season NBA career, primarily with the Charlotte Hornets. 

He was a force to be reckoned with, using his speed and agility to navigate the court and set up plays for teammates. Bogues averaged an impressive 7.7 assists per game over his career. He is one of only two players in NBA history to have recorded over 760 assists while committing fewer than 160 turnovers in a single season – a testament to his brilliant passing skills and court vision. 

Muggsy battled head-to-head against some of the tallest players in NBA history and proved that height isn’t everything when it comes to basketball success. His inspirational story showed that with the right skills, determination and heart, any obstacle can be overcome.

Other Notable Short NBA Players

The NBA’s history is filled with athletes who demonstrated that being vertically challenged does not prevent making significant contributions to the game:

  • Spud Webb: At 5’7″, his victory in the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest is legendary, defying expectations with incredible leaping ability and dunking skills.
  • Earl Boykins: Despite being just 5’5″ and 133 pounds, Earl impressed with his scoring and playmaking during his career, showing agility and skill can make a major impact.
  • Nate Robinson: Standing at 5’9″, Nate is a three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion whose explosive athleticism and endless energy made him a fan favorite.

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

While shorter players are naturally at a disadvantage in areas like shooting over taller defenders, defending shooters, and pulling down rebounds, those who make the NBA have learned to leverage unique advantages their height provides.

Speed: Their quickness allows for rapid transitions up and down the court, often outpacing taller opponents on fast breaks.

Agility: The ability to swiftly change direction enables shorter players to navigate through defenses, creating scoring opportunities and avoiding being blocked.

Lower Center of Gravity: This provides better balance and stability, which is crucial for maintaining control when driving to the hoop and playing tenacious defense.

Endurance: The shortest NBA players tend to have superior endurance, allowing them to maintain a high level of effort and energy throughout games without tiring as quickly.

Ball Handling: Being lower to the ground generally results in better ball control, making shorter players excellent dribblers and playmakers.

Steals and Defense: Their proximity to the floor makes it easier to get in the passing lanes, poke the ball loose, and create turnovers that can swing momentum.

Perimeter Shooting: To compensate for difficulty scoring inside, many develop consistent outside shooting skills to provide spacing and a long-range threat.

Just ask Kyle Lowry, who made a career out of charging into the paint and drawing charges to get opponents in foul trouble despite giving up significant size to his matchups.

Skills for Shorter Players to Develop

Skills for Shorter Players to Develop

While you can’t control your genetics, shorter basketball players can maximize their skills and physical abilities to compete at the highest levels:

Master Ball Handling: Leverage your natural proximity to the floor to develop elite dribbling skills that keep the ball on a string and protect it from taller defenders.

Perfect Shooting Technique: A consistent, accurate jump shot is even more valuable for shorter players who can struggle finishing inside. Putting in the reps from long range is key.

Increase Basketball IQ: Understanding situations, angles, and next moves can make up for a size disadvantage. Studious players study film to anticipate and exploit defensive lapses.

Develop a Quick First Step: Capitalize on quickness with an explosive first step. Blowing by defenders creates space to operate.

Focus on Physical Conditioning: While you can’t get taller, dedication in the weight room to build strength and twitch muscles can give you a major edge.

Learn to Draw Fouls: Leverage your speed and change of pace to draw charges or rip through defenders going for blocks. Getting to the free throw line is crucial.

Keep practicing. Never let someone tell you you’re too small or too slow.” – Chris Paul

No matter your size, hard work, dedication to skill development, and an indomitable spirit can overcome perceived limitations on the basketball court. Just ask any of the shortest NBA players ever!

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