70 Years of Height Evolution in the NBA [4,504 players analyzed]

Posted on 03 September, 2021 by Dimitrije Curcic

You can’t teach height Red Auerbach

We spent 2 months analyzing 24,841 records of 4,504 NBA players during 69 NBA seasons in order to show how the game of basketball evolved through the evolution of players’ height.

Special note to Kirk Goldsberry, whose book “Sprawlball” inspired the creation of this research. This article is a height spinoff of “Sprawlball”.

 

 

Key findings:

  • The average NBA player is 6'6.3'' tall and has never been shorter over the past 39 seasons.
  • Point guards are the tallest they’ve ever been in league history. All other positions are the shortest since the 80s.
  • 72% of the league is under 6’9’’ tall (most over the past 40 seasons)
  • 40% of the power forwards’ FG attempts are 3-pointers (first time in NBA history). Centers are getting close to 20% (19.5).
  • While declining in number, NBA’s big-men are dominating in shooting efficiency and PER, breaking all-time NBA records.
  • International big-men are one of the most valuable assets for NBA teams - 53% of the NBA’s 7-footers are international players, and 46% of NBA centers are from overseas.

 

1. Height and weight throughout NBA history

The average NBA height is 6’6.3’’ (2021), which is the lowest over the past 41 years. The last decade was the first in the history of the league where NBA players got shorter than a decade before.

 

 

NBA point guards are 6’2.4’’ tall, tallest they’ve ever been. 

All other positions (shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, and centers) are the shortest since the early 80s.

 

 

The average weight in the NBA was growing since the 70s, peaked in the 2010/11 season, and has been declining ever since.

NBA players are the lightest they’ve been in the 21st century. The average weight of an NBA player is 217 lbs (2021).

 

 

 

Similar to height evolution, point guards are the heaviest they’ve ever been. All other positions are getting lighter.

BMI of NBA players is declining over the last few seasons. The average BMI of NBA players is 24.77 (2021).

It’s understandable that NBA players, especially big-men, had to become more agile and lighter in order to adapt to the perimeter-oriented game. This is why NBA centers and power forwards are facing the biggest drop in their BMI.

As a consequence, today we have the smallest share of “overweight” players in the NBA (BMI>25) over the past 15 years. Only 43% of NBA players are overweight according to their BMI.

The ideal concept of the small-ball game is having 5 guys with the same physical attributes and skillset - this is positionless basketball at its peak.

So it’s not strange that 61.5% of the NBA players are within 6 inches, standing between 6’3’’ and 6’9’’ (2021). All other height ranges are in decline.

Also, 73.7% of the league is under 6’9’’.

2. Shooting evolution through height

Ever since the 60s, players shorter than the league average have been attempting more field goals than taller players. However, in 2021, there is an equalization of average height and height weighted by FGA.

On the other hand, over the last couple of decades players taller than league average proved to be more accurate shooters, which can be seen by weighting height by FG%.

Today, the difference between height weighted by FG% and the average NBA height is the biggest in NBA history:

NBA centers are the only players who still spend some time inside the 3-point line. As a consequence, NBA centers have the highest FG% that anyone ever had in the history of the league.

Players taller than 6’9’’ have constantly been increasing their shooting efficiency over the past 20 years. They are the only group that makes more than 50% of their field goal attempts. All other groups are below 45%.

For the first time in NBA history, players from one position have a TS% above 60% - NBA centers. And for the 5th season in a row, all positions are above 50%.

2019/20 season is the first in NBA history where all height ranges TS% average goes over 50%. 7-footers are the first group at the 60%-mark.

As NBA big-men started to take more and more 3-pointers, height weighted by 3PA is closest to average NBA height since the introduction of the 3-points line.

While the whole league volumes up 3-point shooting, it’s the NBA big-men who faced the most radical transformation. Over the last decade, power forwards and centers increased the number of 3PA by 167% and 323%, respectively.

The average 7-footer in the NBA attempts 85 3-pointers in a season. This is a 231% increase over 10 years, and a 147% increase in 5 years only.

It's the same story with the share of 3-point shots in the total FGA, indicating that taller players increasingly exchange 2-pointers with 3-pointers.

40% of NBA power forwards field goal attempts is beyond the 3-point line, 2.45 times more than in the 2009-10 season, and 124% more than in the 2014-15 season. During the same period, centers 3PA share jumped 5 times.

Even the NBA’s 7-footers are taking at least 20% of their field goal attempts beyond the 3-point line. Players shorter than 6’9’’ are getting close to the 50% mark.

3. Game evolution through height

The evolution of the game reflects on the rebounding patterns. Looking at the offensive boards, it’s noticeable that the offensive rebounding is on the decline.

NBA centers are the only player who somewhat maintained the rebounding rate from the last decade. Power forwards, who moved out of the paint, dropped their offensive rebounds average by 45% in 10 years, and are closer to guards than ever before.

It’s not a surprise that only NBA 7-footers increased off rebounding over the past 10 years, while all shorter players are facing decline:

It’s a similar story with defensive rebounds, where things have been more stagnant over the last 30 years. This is understandable as defensive rebounding requires more team effort and cooperation.

Especially in today’s game, where 4 or 5 guys on the court are playing beyond the arc, defensive rebounds are the most evenly distributed between positions since this stat has started recording.

Assist evolution through height tells another interesting story. The results show that taller players facilitate more than ever before, as height weighted by assists got closest to the average NBA height in the last 45 years.

Big-men are the only ones who are significantly increasing their assist rate - centers are assisting 29% more than 10 years ago, and power forwards increased assists by 23% during the same period.

Shooting guards and small forwards are actually assisting less than they did 10 years ago. For the first time in 40 years, NBA big-men assist as much as small forwards.

As a consequence, only players over 6’9’’ are increasing their assist averages.

While NBA big-men are declining in number, they are dominating in efficiency. For the ninth season in a row, height weighted by PER is larger than average NBA height. This hasn’t happened since the 60s and the Russel-Chamberlain era.

NBA centers have the highest PER in the NBA for 7 seasons in a row. This has never happened over the past 60 years. It’s also interesting that the point guards average the highest PER ever.

Players over 7-feet tall are averaging the highest PER in the history of the NBA (17,46), and are leading the league for 6 straight seasons (also the NBA record).

4. Rookie height evolution

Rookies’ data are an interesting tool to examine the league's year-to-year tendencies. The data are much more unstable and fluctuate more on a yearly basis, but they are more precise in explaining the league’s current trend.

The average height of NBA rookies is on a steady decline over the past several seasons. In 2021, NBA rookie was 6'5.8'' tall on average, the lowest since 2009.

It’s noticeable that shooting guards and forwards are getting shorter over the past several seasons.

5. International players’ height evolution

Over the past 30 years, the NBA is increasingly opening up for overseas players. In the 2020-21 season, every 4th NBA player wasn’t American.

International NBA players today are 3% shorter than 20 years ago, and 0.7 inches shorter than 10 years ago. In 2021, the average height of international players was 6'8.1'', the lowest in league history.

Breaking down by position, international players evolve along with the league’s tendencies - big-men are getting shorter, point guards are getting taller.

International centers recorded the highest share among NBA centers in the history of the league - in the 2019/20 season, 46% of all NBA centers come from overseas. In 2021 this share dropped to 30%, signaling that the USA centers are starting to adapt to the modern requirements of the game.

Similarly, 46% of NBA players taller than 6’9’’ are international players, and foreign 7-footers are accounting for 53% of league total. This data clearly shows that international big-men are still one of the most valuable assets from NBA teams.

Over the years, big men coming from abroad, particularly from Europe, have proved to be more skillful with the ball in their hands. They’re educated to play a team basketball, share the ball and learn to read the game.

This is visible on the charts – since the new millennia, when the centers slowly but surely started getting more involved in the flow of the game, by setting pick&rolls and “migrating” outside of the paint, they needed to develop a new skill set, one that the European centers already possessed. In some way, it was the international big men who made the small-ball revolution possible.

6. Tables and data

Season Average NBA height
1947 6'2.13''
1948 6'2.51''
1949 6'3.20''
1950 6'3.64''
1951 6'4.12''
1952 6'4.16''
1953 6'3.72''
1954 6'4.15''
1955 6'4.34''
1956 6'4.97''
1957 6'4.98''
1958 6'5.24''
1959 6'4.94''
1960 6'5.16''
1961 6'5.32''
1962 6'5.12''
1963 6'5.53''
1964 6'5.49''
1965 6'5.62''
1966 6'5.42''
1967 6'5.71''
1968 6'5.57''
1969 6'5.67''
1970 6'5.68''
1971 6'5.74''
1972 6'5.80''
1973 6'5.88''
1974 6'5.83''
1975 6'5.93''
1976 6'6.11''
1977 6'6.05''
1978 6'6.08''
1979 6'6.18''
1980 6'6.33''
1981 6'6.38''
1982 6'6.57''
1983 6'6.81''
1984 6'6.76''
1985 6'6.82''
1986 6'7.03''
1987 6'7.04''
1988 6'7.02''
1989 6'6.93''
1990 6'6.81''
1991 6'6.95''
1992 6'6.65''
1993 6'6.90''
1994 6'7.05''
1995 6'6.78''
1996 6'6.90''
1997 6'6.94''
1998 6'6.73''
1999 6'6.85''
2000 6'6.93''
2001 6'6.90''
2002 6'6.93''
2003 6'7.17''
2004 6'7.20''
2005 6'7.13''
2006 6'7.05''
2007 6'6.94''
2008 6'6.99''
2009 6'7.12''
2010 6'6.98''
2011 6'7.12''
2012 6'6.94''
2013 6'6.86''
2014 6'6.84''
2015 6'6.72''
2016 6'6.73''
2017 6'6.84''
2018 6'6.55''
2019 6'6.58''
2020 6'6.45''
2021 6'6.33''

Season PG SG SF PF C
1947 6'1.1'' 6'1.3'' 6'2.9'' 6'5.2'' 6'7.6''
1948 6'1.1'' 6'1.5'' 6'3.3'' 6'5.6'' 6'6.8''
1949 6'0.2'' 6'1.2'' 6'3.1'' 6'5.6'' 6'8.2''
1950 6'0.1'' 6'1.8'' 6'3.3'' 6'6.2'' 6'8.5''
1951 6'0.2'' 6'1.8'' 6'3.8'' 6'6.4'' 6'9.1''
1952 6'0.6'' 6'1.4'' 6'4.4'' 6'6.1'' 6'8.5''
1953 6'0.0'' 6'1.7'' 6'4.4'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.5''
1954 6'0.1'' 6'1.7'' 6'4.9'' 6'6.5'' 6'8.9''
1955 6'1.3'' 6'2.1'' 6'4.5'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.8''
1956 6'1.1'' 6'3.0'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.1'' 6'8.9''
1957 6'1.3'' 6'2.7'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.0''
1958 6'2.0'' 6'3.0'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.1''
1959 6'1.8'' 6'3.1'' 6'5.2'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.1''
1960 6'1.7'' 6'3.1'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.4'' 6'9''
1961 6'1.6'' 6'3.4'' 6'5.7'' 6'7.2'' 6'9''
1962 6'1.6'' 6'3.6'' 6'5.7'' 6'7.2'' 6'10''
1963 6'1.4'' 6'3.3'' 6'5.9'' 6'7.2'' 6'9''
1964 6'1.7'' 6'3.6'' 6'6.0'' 6'7.4'' 6'9''
1965 6'1.8'' 6'3.5'' 6'5.7'' 6'7.7'' 6'10''
1966 6'1.3'' 6'3.6'' 6'6.0'' 6'7.1'' 6'9''
1967 6'1.5'' 6'3.6'' 6'5.7'' 6'7.4'' 6'9''
1968 6'1.9'' 6'3.4'' 6'5.8'' 6'7.4'' 6'9''
1969 6'1.4'' 6'3.3'' 6'5.8'' 6'7.6'' 6'9''
1970 6'1.9'' 6'3.3'' 6'5.8'' 6'7.4'' 6'10''
1971 6'1.4'' 6'3.4'' 6'6.2'' 6'7.5'' 6'9''
1972 6'1.7'' 6'3.4'' 6'5.9'' 6'7.7'' 6'10''
1973 6'1.9'' 6'3.3'' 6'6.0'' 6'7.6'' 6'10''
1974 6'1.6'' 6'3.4'' 6'6.1'' 6'8.0'' 6'10''
1975 6'1.8'' 6'3.5'' 6'6.2'' 6'7.9'' 6'10''
1976 6'1.8'' 6'3.4'' 6'6.4'' 6'8.1'' 6'10''
1977 6'1.7'' 6'3.5'' 6'6.4'' 6'8.2'' 6'10''
1978 6'1.7'' 6'3.5'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.4'' 6'10''
1979 6'1.8'' 6'3.9'' 6'6.6'' 6'8.3'' 6'10''
1980 6'1.9'' 6'3.9'' 6'6.7'' 6'8.6'' 6'10''
1981 6'1.7'' 6'4.3'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.6'' 6'10''
1982 6'1.6'' 6'4.2'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.7'' 6'11''
1983 6'2.0'' 6'4.0'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.8'' 6'10''
1984 6'2.2'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.0'' 6'8.9'' 6'11''
1985 6'2.2'' 6'4.3'' 6'6.9'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1986 6'2.3'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.1'' 6'8.9'' 6'11''
1987 6'2.4'' 6'4.6'' 6'7.0'' 6'9.2'' 6'11''
1988 6'1.8'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.2'' 6'11''
1989 6'2.0'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1990 6'1.4'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
1991 6'1.7'' 6'4.7'' 6'6.9'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
1992 6'1.3'' 6'4.6'' 6'7.0'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
1993 6'1.1'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1994 6'1.2'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1995 6'1.4'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
1996 6'1.1'' 6'5.0'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1997 6'1.6'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
1998 6'1.2'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1999 6'1.4'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2000 6'1.7'' 6'5.0'' 6'7.6'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
2001 6'1.9'' 6'5.0'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2002 6'1.6'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2003 6'2.0'' 6'5.2'' 6'7.9'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
2004 6'1.9'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.6'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
2005 6'1.8'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.6'' 6'9.4'' 6'11''
2006 6'1.9'' 6'5.0'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
2007 6'1.6'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2008 6'1.7'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
2009 6'2.0'' 6'5.3'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.2'' 6'11''
2010 6'1.9'' 6'5.3'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2011 6'1.8'' 6'5.3'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.2'' 6'11''
2012 6'1.7'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.4'' 6'9.2'' 6'10''
2013 6'1.9'' 6'4.6'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.2'' 6'10''
2014 6'2.0'' 6'4.6'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.2'' 6'10''
2015 6'1.9'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.2'' 6'10''
2016 6'2.2'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.1'' 6'10''
2017 6'2.1'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2018 6'2.2'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.1'' 6'8.9'' 6'10''
2019 6'2.5'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.0'' 6'8.9'' 6'10''
2020 6'2.4'' 6'4.5'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.4'' 6'10''
2021 6'2.4'' 6'4.3'' 6'6.6'' 6'8.3'' 6'10''

Season Average weight in the NBA
1947 186
1948 187
1949 191
1950  
1951  
1952 197
1953 195
1954 196
1955 195
1956 200
1957 201
1958 201
1959 200
1960 202
1961 203
1962 202
1963 204
1964 205
1965 206
1966 205
1967 206
1968 205
1969 206
1970 205
1971 204
1972 205
1973 205
1974 203
1975 203
1976 204
1977 203
1978 203
1979 203
1980 204
1981 204
1982 204
1983 206
1984 206
1985 207
1986 208
1987 208
1988 208
1989 209
1990 208
1991 210
1992 209
1993 212
1994 213
1995 212
1996 214
1997 215
1998 214
1999 216
2000 216
2001 217
2002 219
2003 220
2004 220
2005 221
2006 221
2007 221
2008 220
2009 221
2010 221
2011 223
2012 222
2013 222
2014 222
2015 220
2016 221
2017 220
2018 217
2019 217
2020 216
2021 217

Season PG SG SF PF C
1947 174 178 188 196 223
1948 169 179 193 192 221
1949 173 179 191 201 222
1950          
1951          
1952 175 183 201 208 218
1953 176 184 202 211 217
1954 179 180 199 208 222
1955 180 184 194 211 215
1956 181 187 202 209 219
1957 180 190 206 211 216
1958 184 188 204 211 218
1959 185 190 205 207 220
1960 182 189 205 209 227
1961 183 189 209 215 226
1962 182 192 210 213 226
1963 182 190 206 214 226
1964 184 192 209 217 229
1965 185 191 211 215 230
1966 183 192 210 215 229
1967 182 189 208 217 229
1968 184 192 208 217 226
1969 182 192 208 216 229
1970 181 191 209 216 229
1971 180 189 207 216 227
1972 180 188 206 218 230
1973 180 188 207 216 228
1974 180 188 206 215 228
1975 179 188 204 216 225
1976 180 188 205 218 225
1977 180 187 206 217 225
1978 180 188 207 217 226
1979 179 189 205 216 228
1980 179 188 205 219 227
1981 177 191 205 217 230
1982 176 190 205 218 231
1983 177 189 205 219 231
1984 178 192 206 220 233
1985 179 190 208 220 232
1986 179 190 209 221 235
1987 179 191 208 223 238
1988 177 192 209 223 239
1989 177 191 209 224 239
1990 175 193 210 225 237
1991 176 194 209 225 239
1992 175 194 212 224 242
1993 177 195 212 227 243
1994 178 195 213 227 244
1995 178 195 215 228 244
1996 177 197 217 229 247
1997 181 198 216 231 248
1998 180 197 217 232 246
1999 181 201 217 232 246
2000 183 199 219 235 246
2001 184 200 219 234 248
2002 184 201 220 238 249
2003 186 204 222 239 247
2004 186 202 219 238 248
2005 186 204 219 239 251
2006 187 204 220 240 253
2007 186 204 218 237 253
2008 186 206 218 234 252
2009 187 207 219 238 251
2010 187 207 220 240 251
2011 189 209 222 238 253
2012 189 208 221 239 252
2013 190 205 221 237 255
2014 188 205 221 240 255
2015 189 206 220 240 255
2016 189 205 220 239 253
2017 189 205 220 236 251
2018 189 204 219 234 248
2019 192 205 215 232 248
2020 192 202 215 230 246
2021 192 202 214 230 248

Season Average height of NBA rookies by season
1947 6'2.1''
1948 6'2.8''
1949 6'3.1''
1950 6'3.4''
1951 6'4.3''
1952 6'3.8''
1953 6'3.4''
1954 6'4.4''
1955 6'4.0''
1956 6'4.9''
1957 6'5.3''
1958 6'4.6''
1959 6'4.8''
1960 6'5.4''
1961 6'5.1''
1962 6'4.4''
1963 6'5.6''
1964 6'5.1''
1965 6'5.4''
1966 6'5.3''
1967 6'5.8''
1968 6'5.4''
1969 6'6.0''
1970 6'5.4''
1971 6'5.9''
1972 6'6.1''
1973 6'5.6''
1974 6'5.9''
1975 6'5.6''
1976 6'6.3''
1977 6'5.7''
1978 6'5.7''
1979 6'5.8''
1980 6'6.4''
1981 6'6.3''
1982 6'6.8''
1983 6'7.2''
1984 6'7.1''
1985 6'7.2''
1986 6'7.5''
1987 6'7.1''
1988 6'6.4''
1989 6'6.5''
1990 6'6.1''
1991 6'7.2''
1992 6'5.9''
1993 6'6.5''
1994 6'7.4''
1995 6'6.5''
1996 6'6.8''
1997 6'6.8''
1998 6'6.7''
1999 6'6.9''
2000 6'6.5''
2001 6'7.8''
2002 6'7.4''
2003 6'7.2''
2004 6'7.0''
2005 6'6.7''
2006 6'6.5''
2007 6'6.8''
2008 6'7.4''
2009 6'7.2''
2010 6'5.6''
2011 6'7.4''
2012 6'6.0''
2013 6'6.8''
2014 6'6.6''
2015 6'6.6''
2016 6'7.2''
2017 6'6.5''
2018 6'6.3''
2019 6'6.1''
2020 6'6.1''
2021 6'5.8''

Season PG SG SF PF C
1947 6'1.1'' 6'1.3'' 6'2.9'' 6'5.2'' 6'7.6''
1948 6'0.8'' 6'5.0'' 6'3.2'' 6'5.7'' 6'6.0''
1949 6'0.4'' 6'0.9'' 6'3.0'' 6'5.8'' 6'9.0''
1950 6'0.1'' 6'1.8'' 6'3.6'' 6'5.9'' 6'9.3''
1951 6'1.5'' 6'2.0'' 6'4.4'' 6'6.3'' 6'9.0''
1952 6'1.2'' 6'0.3'' 6'4.1'' 6'8.0'' 6'7.7''
1953 6'0.0'' 6'1.8'' 6'3.7'' 6'7.8'' 6'7.5''
1954 6'0.5'' 6'2.7'' 6'5.0'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.7''
1955 6'2.2'' 6'3.0'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.3'' 6'8.7''
1956 6'1.7'' 6'3.4'' 6'5.4'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.3''
1957 6'1.8'' 6'3.0'' 6'5.8'' 6'7.3'' 6'8.3''
1958 6'2.8'' 6'3.5'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.5'' 6'8.0''
1959 6'1.0'' 6'2.0'' 6'5.9'' 6'6.3'' 6'9.0''
1960 6'1.8'' 6'3.5'' 6'4.2'' 6'7.0'' 6'9''
1961 6'1.0'' 6'3.0'' 6'6.1'' 6'7.0'' 7'0''
1962 6'0.8'' 6'3.7'' 6'6.3'' 6'7.3'' 6'9''
1963 6'2.0'' 6'2.7'' 6'5.4'' 6'7.2'' 6'9''
1964 6'2.4'' 6'4.1'' 6'5.0'' 6'8.3'' 6'10''
1965 6'2.0'' 6'2.8'' 6'5.4'' 6'8.0'' 6'10''
1966 6'0.3'' 6'4.2'' 6'6.7'' 6'6.0'' 6'8''
1967 6'2.0'' 6'3.6'' 6'5.6'' 6'7.8'' 6'9''
1968 6'2.0'' 6'2.9'' 6'5.9'' 6'7.4'' 6'9''
1969 6'1.4'' 6'3.3'' 6'5.3'' 6'7.7'' 6'9''
1970 6'2.6'' 6'2.6'' 6'5.9'' 6'7.5'' 6'10''
1971 6'0.9'' 6'3.6'' 6'6.8'' 6'7.7'' 6'9''
1972 6'2.8'' 6'3.1'' 6'6.0'' 6'7.7'' 6'11''
1973 6'1.6'' 6'3.2'' 6'6.1'' 6'8.1'' 6'10''
1974 6'1.6'' 6'2.8'' 6'6.1'' 6'8.3'' 6'10''
1975 6'1.3'' 6'2.7'' 6'6.7'' 6'8.4'' 6'10''
1976 6'1.3'' 6'3.2'' 6'6.6'' 6'8.5'' 6'10''
1977 6'2.3'' 6'3.6'' 6'6.5'' 6'9.0'' 6'10''
1978 6'0.9'' 6'3.8'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.3'' 6'11''
1979 6'1.5'' 6'4.7'' 6'6.4'' 6'7.3'' 6'10''
1980 6'2.5'' 6'3.8'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.9'' 6'10''
1981 6'1.7'' 6'4.5'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.8'' 6'11''
1982 6'1.4'' 6'4.8'' 6'6.6'' 6'8.8'' 6'11''
1983 6'3.2'' 6'4.2'' 6'7.4'' 6'8.8'' 6'11''
1984 6'2.5'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.5'' 6'11''
1985 6'2.4'' 6'4.0'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.2'' 6'11''
1986 6'1.0'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.5'' 6'8.6'' 7'0.''
1987 6'2.3'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.1'' 6'9.4'' 6'10''
1988 6'0.9'' 6'5.2'' 6'7.6'' 6'9.6'' 6'11''
1989 6'1.9'' 6'4.4'' 6'7.3'' 6'8.7'' 6'11''
1990 6'0.8'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.4'' 6'8.5'' 6'10''
1991 6'2.0'' 6'4.3'' 6'6.7'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
1992 6'0.6'' 6'4.6'' 6'6.7'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1993 6'0.5'' 6'5.0'' 6'6.9'' 6'8.9'' 6'10''
1994 6'1.6'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.3'' 6'8.6'' 6'11''
1995 6'2.0'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.7'' 6'8.6'' 6'11''
1996 6'0.9'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.4'' 6'8.9'' 6'11''
1997 6'1.8'' 6'3.8'' 6'7.0'' 6'8.9'' 6'11''
1998 6'1.8'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
1999 6'1.1'' 6'4.5'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.7'' 6'11''
2000 6'2.3'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.7'' 6'8.6'' 6'11''
2001 6'2.5'' 6'5.7'' 6'8.5'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
2002 6'1.3'' 6'4.6'' 6'8.1'' 6'9.8'' 6'11''
2003 6'2.8'' 6'5.0'' 6'8.0'' 6'9.5'' 6'11''
2004 6'2.7'' 6'5.5'' 6'7.1'' 6'8.5'' 6'11''
2005 6'1.3'' 6'5.5'' 6'7.5'' 6'9.7'' 6'11''
2006 6'1.9'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.9'' 6'9.0'' 6'11''
2007 6'1.6'' 6'5.0'' 6'7.2'' 6'8.8'' 6'10''
2008 6'2.2'' 6'4.9'' 6'7.9'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2009 6'2.2'' 6'5.7'' 6'7.7'' 6'9.5'' 6'11''
2010 6'2.0'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
2011 6'1.9'' 6'5.7'' 6'7.1'' 6'8.6'' 6'11''
2012 6'1.8'' 6'5.4'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.1'' 6'10''
2013 6'2.0'' 6'4.6'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.2'' 6'10''
2014 6'2.1'' 6'4.7'' 6'7.3'' 6'9.1'' 6'11''
2015 6'2.0'' 6'5.1'' 6'7.9'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
2016 6'2.6'' 6'5.2'' 6'6.8'' 6'9.2'' 7'0.''
2017 6'1.8'' 6'5.1'' 6'6.9'' 6'9.3'' 6'11''
2018 6'3.0'' 6'4.8'' 6'7.0'' 6'9.2'' 6'10''
2019 6'2.3'' 6'4.6'' 6'6.8'' 6'8.9'' 6'10''
2020 6'1.5'' 6'4.4'' 6'6.7'' 6'8.3'' 6'11''
2021 6'2.6'' 6'4.0'' 6'6.2'' 6'8.8'' 6'9''

Season Average NBA height Average International height
1981 6'6'' 6'9''
1982 6'7'' 6'9''
1983 6'7'' 6'9''
1984 6'7'' 6'8''
1985 6'7'' 6'8''
1986 6'7'' 6'11''
1987 6'7'' 6'10''
1988 6'7'' 6'11''
1989 6'7'' 6'11''
1990 6'7'' 6'10''
1991 6'7'' 6'10''
1992 6'6'' 6'10''
1993 6'7'' 6'9''
1994 6'7'' 6'11''
1995 6'6'' 6'11''
1996 6'7'' 6'11''
1997 6'7'' 6'9''
1998 6'6'' 6'11''
1999 6'6'' 6'10''
2000 6'7'' 6'10''
2001 6'6'' 6'10''
2002 6'7'' 6'10''
2003 6'7'' 6'9''
2004 6'7'' 6'9''
2005 6'7'' 6'9''
2006 6'6'' 6'9''
2007 6'6'' 6'9''
2008 6'7'' 6'9''
2009 6'7'' 6'9''
2010 6'7'' 6'8''
2011 6'7'' 6'9''
2012 6'7'' 6'8''
2013 6'7'' 6'8''
2014 6'6'' 6'8''
2015 6'6'' 6'8''
2016 6'6'' 6'8''
2017 6'6'' 6'8''
2018 6'6'' 6'8''
2019 6'6'' 6'8''
2020 6'6'' 6'8''
2021 6'6'' 6'8''

Important Notes

  • Although the first NBA season was 1946/47, the results displayed in this research are starting from the 1951/52 season, due to the incomplete data for the previous seasons.
  • The exceptions are 3-point shooting (introduced in 79/80), off/def rebounds, steals, and blocks (started recording from 73/74).

Height evolution vs. footwear evolution

Back in the "old days", when the game was played inside-out, big guys dominated the league. They were the first players to get their signature basketball shoes, starting with now-legendary Chuck Taylor's. The 80s brought a lot of changes to the game, following the arrival of Michael Jordan. Nike basketball shoe division saw in MJ what no other brand could see, and in 1985 the first Air Jordans were born. This was the first major shoe deal signed by an NBA guard, and it changed the shoe industry forever. The last big man to impact the shoe industry was Shaquille O'Neal and his famous Shaq Attack models.

Today, small guys are dominating the league. Steph Curry single-handedly changed the game, and Under Armor didn't want to miss that opportunity. It's the small-guy league now, and signature shoes are driven by stars like James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

Use of content

  • Feel free to use any material from this page, as long as a reference is added to this original piece.
  • Reach out to Dimitrije at dimitrije@runrepeat.com for any requests or questions about the graphics, text or print usage.

Author
Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic

Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.