If there is one common stereotype of NBA players, it’s that they have to be tall to have success. While that’s true, by and large, there are exceptions to the rule. There are a handful of short players that have great seasons and great careers, totaling big points and assist totals and many of them playing over 10 years in the league. Here are 25 NBA players that were all under six-feet tall.
25. Shane Larkin – 5-foot-11
Shane Larkin, who comes in just slightly below six-feet tall, was originally drafted No. 18 overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2013. He was moved to the Dallas Mavericks, and played for three different teams in each of the first three years of his career. Now 24 years old, Larkin has yet to play for any team in the NBA this year. He has averages of 5.8 points and 3.2 assists per game on 43.0% shooting from the field in 202 games.
24. Ty Lawson – 5-foot-11
Originally the 18th overall pick of the 2009 draft, Ty Lawson made quite the career for himself in his early years as the starting point guard for the Denver Nuggets. His best season came in 2013-14, when he averaged 17.6 points and 8.8 assists per game for Denver. Since then, he’s seen brief stops with the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and now with the Sacramento Kings. Lawson is averaging just 7.4 points and 4.8 assists this year, playing 27.2 minutes per game.
23. John Lucas III – 5-foot-11
John Lucas III has had an interesting career, breaking into the NBA in 2005-06 with the Houston Rockets as a bench warmer. His career saw stops in Italy, Spain, and China before returning to the NBA to play two years with the Chicago Bulls, where he developed into a regular backup point guard. He’s played with the Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons, and currently plays in a reserve role for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Lucas has averaged 4.7 points in 12.1 minutes per game in his career.
22. Terrell Brandon – 5-foot-11
Point guard Terrell Brandon was the No. 11 pick of the 1991 draft, breaking into the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers in a reserve role. Eventually, he took over the starting job with the Cavaliers and developed into an All-Star at the age of 25. He was traded in a big three-team deal involving Shawn Kemp in 1997, moving on to play for the Milwaukee Bucks and later the Minnesota Timberwolves. Brandon retired at just 31 and ended his career with averages of 13.8 points and 6.1 assists per game.
21. Speedy Claxton – 5-foot-11
The 20th pick in the 2000 draft, Craig “Speedy” Claxton was aptly nicknamed. Claxton was never much more than a backup point guard, but for a guy of his size was a pretty decent scorer. The best year of Claxton’s career came in 2005-06 while playing for the New Orleans Hornets, getting into 71 games and averaging 12.3 points per game with 4.8 assists. Not bad numbers for a guy that only started three games and played behind Chris Paul. Claxton ended up hurting his knee and seeing his career end at the age of 30.
20. Scott Brooks – 5-foot-11
Scott Brooks did something that was pretty impressive for an undrafted rookie — he played in all 82 games in his first year in the NBA. Brooks played in 680 NBA games. He started just seven, but played a reasonable amount of minutes as a primary backup for teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers. In his career, Brooks averaged 4.9 points per game and 37.2% from three-point range. He won a championship with the Rockets in 1994.
19. Mike Wilks – 5-foot-10
Mike Wilks came into the NBA in 2001 as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Sacramento Kings but never making an appearance in a game. He finally made it onto the court in 2002-03, splitting time with the Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves. Considering the start to his career, it’s pretty impressive that Wilks actually played consistently in the league until 2010, getting into action with eight different teams and averaging 2.5 points in 9.6 minutes per game.
18. Brevin Knight – 5-foot-10
Taken with the 16th pick in the 1997 draft by the Cavaliers, Brevin Knight really had an interesting NBA career. You would think that a player under six-feet tall that was completely incapable of hitting a three-pointer wouldn’t make it long in the league, but Knight ended up playing 13 years — primarily as a starter. Knight’s best year was with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005-06, when he averaged 12.6 points and 8.8 assists per game. Overall, he knocked down just 16 total three-pointers in 729 career games.
17. Damon Stoudamire – 5-foot-10
The highest-drafted player to come in under six-feet tall is Damon Stoudamire, who was taken No. 7 overall by the Toronto Raptors back in 1996. Nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” for his fearsome style of play, Stoudamire was an excellent scorer and distributor in his early career. With the Raptors, Stoudamire averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 assists in two-and-a-half seasons before being dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers. He played 13 years in the NBA, finishing with career averages of 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.
16. Avery Johnson – 5-foot-10
Avery Johnson, also known as “The Little General,” was yet another undrafted free agent that found his way to a great career despite his stature. Johnson began his career with a brief stint with the Seattle Supersonics, then moved on to stops with the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks. Johnson found his way back to San Antonio, where he made a name for himself and won a championship. His best season came in 1995-96, when he averaged 13.1 points and 9.6 assists for the Spurs.
15. Chris Garner – 5-foot-10
Another point guard that wasn’t drafted because of his height, Chris Garner really didn’t spend a lot of time in the NBA. He played 38 games as a backup for the Toronto Raptors in 1997-98, playing 7.7 minutes per game and averaging 1.4 points. He played the next two seasons in the now-defunct CBA, then returned to play 18.6 minutes per game in eight games for the Golden State Warriors in 2000-01. That was the end of his career as an NBA player, at just 25 years old.
14. Khalid El-Amin – 5-foot-10
The Chicago Bulls reached on Khalid El-Amin with the fifth pick in the second round of the 2000 draft. He was just 5-foot-10 and around 200 pounds, openly struggling with weight issues. He got into 50 games with the Bulls that year, starting 14 of those games and averaging 6.3 points and 2.9 assists per game. Despite having used a draft pick on him, the Bulls surprisingly released El-Amin toward the end of his first and only season in the NBA. He briefly signed with the Dallas Mavericks, but never made it into another game.
13. Tyus Edney – 5-foot-10
Another late second round pick, taken No. 47 overall in 1995 by the Sacramento Kings, Tyus Edney actually ended up starting 60 games in his first season and having the best year of his career — averaging 10.8 points and 6.1 assists as a rookie. Edney would settle into a reserve role, playing another year in Sacramento and then one with the Boston Celtics before playing overseas followed by a brief return to the NBA in 2000-01 with the Indiana Pacers. Edney finished his NBA career with averages of 7.6 points and 4.0 assists per game.
12. Andre Barrett – 5-foot-10
Another undrafted guard, Andre Barrett got his break in the NBA with the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic in 2004-05, playing 38 games and averaging 3.1 points. In total, Barrett really didn’t have much of a career as an NBA player. He only played four seasons, getting into games with the Rockets, Magic, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Clippers. His career was over at the age of 25, finishing with career averages of 3.3 points and 2.0 assists in 67 total games.
11. Michael Adams – 5-foot-10
Michael Adams had a very interesting career, ending up being a rare third round pick that made it as an NBA player. The Sacramento Kings drafted him No. 66 overall in 1985, and he played in only 18 games that year for the Kings before being let go. He bounced around a bit before finding his home with the Denver Nuggets, where he had an outstanding season in 1990-91. Adams averaged 26.5 points and 10.5 assists per game as the starting point guard for the Nuggets, and finished his career at the age of 33 with averages of 14.7 points and 6.4 assists.
10. Kay Felder – 5-foot-9
Kay Felder was taken in the second round with the 54th overall pick this last year, mostly because of the questions about how his height and style would translate to the NBA. So far, the jury is out on Felder. He’s gotten into six games with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 3.0 points in 8.5 minutes per game. But the Cavaliers have high hopes that Felder can develop into a solid backup point guard for Kyrie Irving, and with the best team in the Eastern Conference they have the time to be patient with Felder.
9. Calvin Murphy – 5-foot-9
Calvin Murphy was drafted No. 18 overall back in 1970 and ended up playing his entire career with the Houston Rockets. He was never really much of a distributor, being more of a true shooting guard despite his diminutive stature. Murphy’s best season came in 1977-78, shooting 49.1% from the field and averaging 25.6 points per game. He finished his career at the age of 34 and averages of 17.9 points and 4.4 assists per game.
8. Nate Robinson – 5-foot-9
Drafted No. 21 by the New York Knicks back in 2005, not a lot was really expected of Nate Robinson. He was seen as a guy who relied on his athleticism and insane jumping ability, which are fleeting skills. While Robinson was never a regular starting point guard, he filled a role as a scorer off the bench. His best season came in 2008-09, when Robinson started just 11 games but averaged 17.2 points per game for New York. He’s also won the NBA All-Star weekend dunk contest three times, which is impressive for anyone, much less a guy who is just 5-foot-9.
7. Isaiah Thomas – 5-foot-9
Despite an excellent run as a scorer in college, teams were weary of taking Isaiah Thomas in the 2011 draft. He fell all the way to the bottom, getting drafted with the 60th pick by the Sacramento Kings. Since then, he’s done nothing but score and get better. Now with the Boston Celtics, Thomas is averaging 26.0 points per game this year and was an All-Star for the first time last season. At just 27 years old, Thomas is one of the better scoring guards in the NBA.
6. Charlie Criss – 5-foot-8
The only official player to put on an NBA uniform at the height of 5-foot-8 is Charlie Criss, who played eight years between the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, and San Diego Clippers in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Criss went undrafted, and thus didn’t make his NBA debut until he was already 29 years old — making his eight-year career all that much more impressive. Criss retired at 36 with career averages of 8.5 points and 3.2 assists per game.
5. Greg Grant – 5-foot-7
The 52nd overall pick in the 1989 draft, Greg Grant really didn’t do much more than serve as a decent backup point guard in his career. He played for six different teams in his seven-year career, with his best season coming in 1991-92 when he got into 68 games for the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets, averaging 3.3 points per game. He retired at the age of 29 with career averages of 2.8 points and 2.7 assists in 12.2 minutes per game.
4. Keith Jennings – 5-foot-7
Keith Jennings is yet another undrafted player that had an utterly forgettable NBA career. Signing with the Golden State Warriors at 24 years old in 1992-93, Jennings averaged 8.5 points in 17.0 minutes per game over eight games in his rookie season. He stuck around in a reserve role for the Warriors of the next two years before seeing his NBA career come to an end after just three years, with career averages of 6.6 points and 3.7 assists in 18.0 minutes per game.
3. Spud Webb – 5-foot-6
Much like Nate Robinson, Spud Webb is best remembered for his crazy dunking ability. Webb was drafted in the fourth round in 1985, playing his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks and averaging 7.8 points in 15.6 minutes per game. The best year of his career came in 1991-92 with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 16.0 points and 7.1 assists per game. Webb won the dunk contest in 1986 and ended his career with four games for the Orlando Magic in 1997-98 when he was 34 years old.
2. Earl Boykins – 5-foot-5
Earl Boykins went undrafted in 1999 — no doubt because of his size (5-foot-5, 135 pounds). He ended up making his NBA debut with the New Jersey Nets that year, and he bounced around the league as a backup and third-string point guard for a while. That is, until he ended up developing into a pretty decent player later in his career. Boykins’ best season came when he was 30 years old in 2006-07, averaging 14.6 points for the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks. Boykins played until he was 35 years old and retired with averages of 8.9 points and 19.9 minutes per game.
1. Muggsy Bogues – 5-foot-3
Probably the most universally known name on this list is that of Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, the shortest player to ever put on an NBA uniform. He was actually drafted No. 12 overall by the Washington Bullets in 1987, but played only one season there before the Charlotte Hornets took him in the expansion draft. It was in Charlotte that Bogues became a household name, averaging 8.8 points and 8.8 assists in 10 seasons with the Hornets. Bogues moved on to play for the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors before eventually retiring after the 2000-01 season.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.