I can remember at a young age asking myself how much taller am I going to be, at that point in time I was obsessed with the game of basketball and wasn’t very tall. It was pretty obvious as a kid on the court, that if your tall you have a distinct advantage over everyone else. But the question remains…
Does height really matter in Basketball? Tall basketball players in general have a height advantage over the smaller competition. With longer limbs, they are able to cover more ground natuarally and take advantage of their height to rebound and score easy baskets underneath the hoop. But most players who are tall lack in speed and cordination, this often is the tradeoff for being tall.
The average height for a male in North America is 5’9 and in the world 5’6. The average height in the N.B.A. is 6’6. Basketball players are getting taller and not only do they have the height advantage they have the skillset of smaller players which is scary if your average joe. Let’s dive deeper and see if height still really matters in today’s game.
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Does Height Really Matter?
So you are probably asking yourself does height really matter in the game of basketball? Because you are average in height and a shorter player compared to the rest of the players you play with or against. The hard truth of it is, in almost every professional sport being tall against the competitors is an advantage in itself. Notice I said professional sports.
If you’re in middle school or high school and you are questioning where you fall in as a basketball player compared to everyone else first know that no matter how tall you are, at any height ask yourself are you doing all that you can and what it takes to improve your basketball game, are you at your full potential that being tall would make you a better player, the answer in most cases will be no. You haven’t done all that you can. Being tall may sacrifice your speed and even playstyle, more on that later.
The truth of the matter is it really is up to genetics on how tall you will become, there are few things you can do to become taller. If you are interested in more about height and if its possible to grow taller check out this article I wrote on this topic by clicking here!
But I want to play pro? No height will definitely help if you want to play in the NBA, but there are a ton of players who are 6 feet and underplaying professional basketball and there have been an excellent crop of players that played in the NBA under 6 feet who became legends.
Height didn’t matter to players like Allen Iverson, John Stockton and Isaiah Thomas. If they somehow had a growth spurt and their height increased people would think they would be even better. Maybe not, maybe they wouldn’t be as quick and rely on other abilities instead like their reach instead of their speed and timing to steal the ball. Maybe they would be a completely different player and not be the legends they are. You ever think about it that way.
If you have two players who have the exact ant same skill set but one of the players is 3 inches taller than the other, you would take the taller player but why is that? It can be obvious but let’s take a deeper look at this.
If we take a tall player versus a small player in tennis to let’s say one is 6’4 and the other is 6 feet. The taller player has a lot of things going for them, an advantage in height will come with a longer reach which means less energy is needed to get to the ball, and its easier to reach compared to the 6-foot player the taller player usually has a longer reach. The player with the shorter reach hitting the same shot use more energy. But this can vary the shorter player could be quicker that’s the trade-off we will get into in a bit.
For a lot of for tall players being able to see over the net on a serve or smash/spike in tennis or volleyball is definitely an advantage. They can put the ball onto the court wherever they want easily. They have more time to do so and usually with longer limbs have more power to do so either.
The same holds true in basketball at a professional level, being smaller, you may be a defensive liability on the court. While contesting shots at the basket will be more difficult. You may be the perfect victim for a poster and you will be posted up on continuously. Unfortunately its the sad reality, a tall player will already have an advantage over his competition.
Does height limit performance in basketball?
Taller players do have their advantages to the game of basketball, they also have disadvantages. Most often than not taller have the reach advantage but will lack the quickness of smaller players. They may be able to block shots due to their huge arm span but their coordination may be lacking.
They are generally not the best ball handlers and have trouble guarding out at the three-point line. I think you can see where I am going with this, the players you see in the NBA now that are tall are genetic freaks who can pretty much do it all. Not every basketball player can do all things equally well. Just like you and me, we have weaknesses. But the question remains how will you use your basketball IQ to expose those weaknesses.
Why is every player so tall in the NBA?
The average height in the NBA is around 6 feet 6 inches tall, 9 inches taller than the average height of males in the United States. It has been like this for the last few decades players along with their height are more skilled than they have ever been thinking about this for a second the tallest player Taco Fall ‘s Arm span is long enough to reach up and grab the 10-foot room with two hands without jumping.
This goes to show that being tall will obviously help with a reach advantage on defense. Everyone’s reach is not the same for a given height some players have freakishly long arms and big hands which works for their advantage.
The days are over in the NBA where it paid to be tall and you would be successful with a limited amount of skill. The difference now is that players are in fact taller but better fundamentally.
The number of basketball players that are seven feet tall in the NBA league seems to be increasing every decade. The scary thing about it is that they are not your average player with average athletic ability. They are even more athletic than ever before and move just as well as some of the average height guards in the league do.
Players who make the N.B.A. who are below the height average of 6’6 make it for a reason, they have something in their game that no one else has that’s scouts saw. Usually, they are lightning quick, are an excellent scorer, and can steal while playing lockdown man to man defense.
Many players make it to the N.B.A. are genetically gifted and have perfect timing such was the case with CJ McCollum. A freshman in high school he was only 5 3 inches tall, he was tiny. So as a point guard he worked on his game to compensate for the lack of height. Little did he know that he would grow another foot over the next two years. Being that small was a blessing, he might have never worked on his game the way he did if he was already a taller player.
Time and time again you see tall players use their height to get to where they are and it won’t take them far not even college basketball. There are a lot of tall guys playing D1 already. Just look at all the tall guys in your pick up game, how many are actually good at basketball and played somewhere? If you take away their height not a lot unless your playing against really good competition.
Being average height has its advantages its easier to buy shoes and clothes. You don’t have to worry about hitting your head on a door but in all seriousness, the important factor is you can’t control your genetics. What you an do his work on your game by working out, working hard, and don’t make excuses. Having a long wingspan would help playing college basketball would be awesome and entering the NBA Draft and making the league would be a dream come true for you and everyone else. What separates you from the competition if you think height would then you better start working harder cause you are misinformed.
Fun fact on being seven feet tall in the 90s
There was an interesting article I read in the mid-90s, I think it was Sports illustrator that suggested if you are 7 feet tall and over you had a 10% chance of making it to the NBA, those days of being tall and making it to the NBA are over now if you are 7 ft tall you need to be able to play and keep up with the pace of the game.
We saw recently Taco Fall and Bol Bol all be drafted into the N.B.A. only to play in the developmental league. There is a reason for that being tall doesn’t cut it teams are smart enough to send the big man these guys are guarding out to set a pick for their teammate and now you have a mismatch. But that doesn’t mean the genetically gifted players with long wingspans are still not showing up in the league, they are. Rumor has it there is supposed to be a legitimate seven-foot point guard in the draft next year. So we will see what happens.