The Shortest NBA Players of All Time

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

So, you're wondering who the shortest NBA players of all-time are? Let's talk about it!

When you picture a basketball player, chances are you’re picturing a very tall person. That would be fair, considering the fact that there is an added height advantage, given that they are closer to the basket, can reach higher on jump balls, have longer legs to get down the court, and have a better chance of grabbing rebounds, just to name a few.

Related: The Shortest WNBA Players of All-Time

Every once and a while, however, a player comes along who stands out for a different reason – their lack of height. 

Shorter players tend to excel in ways that are crucial to the team. Though they may lack the ability to grab rebounds at the basket or dunk the ball, these players make up for it with their impeccable ball skills and ability to be the playmakers at the top of the key. Of course, it's no irony that the players listed here were all point guards during their career.

Here's my list of the 12 shortest players in NBA history:

12. Willie Somerset (5’8”)

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NBC / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Baltimore Bullets, Johnstown C.J.s, Scranton Miners, Houston Mavericks, New York Nets, Scranton Apollos
  • Years Active: 1965-1973

Willie Somerset is a Dusquene University legend who spent just under a decade playing professional basketball. While playing for the Houston Mavericks and New York Nets from 1967-1969, Somerset averaged 22.8 points per game.

11. Dino Martin (5’8”)

10. Charlie Criss (5’8”)

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Rich Clarkson / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Scranton Apollos, Atlanta Hawks, San Diego Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks
  • Years Active: 1975-1985

Charlie Criss’ career featured stints with the Continental Basketball Association, the Washington Generals (the Harlem Globetrotters sparring partners), and the NBA. During his NBA career, Criss averaged 8.5 points and 3.2 assists per game. 

9. Monte Towe (5’7”)

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Mark Junge / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Denver Nuggets
  • Years Active: 1975-1977

Monte Towe had a short career with the Denver Nuggets, but went on to have a long coaching career for a collection of colleges. Perhaps most notable about Towe’s legacy is that he, along with NC State teammate David Thompson, are known for inventing the alley-oop. The duo both went on to sign with the Denver Nuggets.

8. Wataru Misaka (5’7”)

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Melissa Majchrzak / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: New York Knicks
  • Years Active: 1947

Wataru Misaka was selected by the New York Knicks in 1947, making him the first person of color to play in the BAA (now known as the NBA). Misaka only played in 3 games before he was cut by the Knicks.

7. Red Klotz (5’7”)

6. Keith Jennings (5’7”)

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Sam Forencich / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Golden State Warriors (Jennings also played for various international teams)
  • Years Active: 1991-2004

Keith Jennings’ career began with three seasons playing for the Golden State Warriors, averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 assists per game.

5. Greg Grant (5’7”)

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Mike Powell / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets
  • Years Active: 1989-1999

Greg Grant’s nine year career saw him play on six different teams. Post-basketball career, Grant wrote a memoir titled The Journey of Greg Grant to the NBA and Beyond, which detailed his initial discovery by college scouts while playing at a local playground.

4. Spud Webb (5’6”)

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Andrew Bernstein / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic
  • Years Active: 1985-1998

Webb was drafted in the 4th round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Pistons, but was quickly released before being picked up by the Atlanta Hawks, with whom he spent six seasons. He averaged 9.9 points and 5.3 assists per game. Despite being the fourth shortest player ever in professional basketball, Webb won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1986.

3. Mel Hirsch (5’6”)

2. Earl Boykins (5’5”)

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G Fiume / Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: New Jersey Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets
  • Years Active: 1998-2012

Earl Boykins signed contracts with nine NBA teams throughout his career. It wasn't until 2003 when he signed a five-year contract with the Denver Nuggets that he started to hit a stride in his career. His best season was with the Bucks in 2006-2007 when he started in 19 games, averaging 15.2 points and 4.5 assists per game.

1. Muggsy Bogues (5’3”)

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Getty Images
  • Teams Played For: Washington Bullets, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors
  • Years Active: 1987-2001

Muggsy Bogues was a delight to watch, averaging 7.6 assists per game over the course of his 14-year career. His ball handling skills were his greatest strength and what led him to being selected twelfth overall in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft.

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