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The 33 best seven-footers to play in NBA history (and top 10!)

The NBA continues to become a position-less game, with 7-footers looking and playing much different than they did 10, 20, and 40 years ago. Today’s seven-footers are more likely to shoot a three point shot than

Size is also the one thing that the NBA still can’t teach, with the 7-foot power forwards and centers of the league dominating in a way unlike any other size or position. Who are the best to ever do it? Glad you asked.

With the heart of the NBA season heating up, it’s time for bettors to start earning the top Ohio sports betting promos available in the state. While you’re doing that, let’s talk some hoops and go over the 10 best 7-footers in league history.

Remember, these are only players who are on record as 7-feet tall per the NBA. That means no Giannis Antetokounmpo (6’11), Nikola Jokic (6’11), Kevin Garnett (6’11), Bill Russell (6’10), Tim Duncan (6’10), or Kevin Durant (6’10)—among others.

10. Pau Gasol (7-1, 2001-2020)

Longevity matters here, and an 18-year NBA career that included All-Star appearances as early as 2006 and as late as 2016 is worthy of a spot on this list. Gasol also won two rings, and the Spaniard has one of the most storied international careers in basketball history. He’s 40th in all-time in points, 28th all-time in rebounds, and is second in assists only to Wilt Chamberlain on this list. Gasol may not have been the top player on any of his teams, but he was an integral part of some elite squads. 

9. Joel Embiid (7-0, 2013-present)

He’s just now entering the prime of his career, but Joel Embiid is already building a Hall of Fame resume. Five All-Star appearances (this February will be his sixth), four-time All-NBA Second Team spots, a scoring title (and leading the league at 33.1 points this season), and a couple of MVP runners-up. His points-per-game average (26.50) is second on this list—and eighth all-time—trailing only the man in the top spot on this list.

8. Robert Parish (7-1, 1976-1997)

It doesn’t get much better defensively on this list than Robert Parish. The anchor of the Celtics’ championship defenses in the 80s, Parish is 10th all-time in blocks, 8th all-time in rebounds, and averaged 16.5 points over 14 seasons in Boston—nine of which he was named an All-Star. He’s a three-time NBA champion with the Celtics (and played in two games for the 1997 Bulls, earning him a fourth ring) and probably the most underappreciated name on this list. That’ll happen playing alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.

7. Patrick Ewing (7-0, 1985-2002)

Never had a 7-footer make that midrange jumper look so sweet than Patrick Ewing did. A scoring machine, he averaged 20+ points each of his first 13 NBA seasons, averaged 10+ rebounds nine consecutive seasons, and is the NBA’s seventh all-time leader in blocks. He unfortunately played in an era with Bird, Magic, and MJ—leaving him as one of the few on this list without a title. But his sheer volume, durability, 11 All-Star appearances, and epic playoff performances give him a spot on this list.

6. David Robinson (7-1, 1989 to 2003)

A younger generation remembers Tim Duncan as the man that made the Spurs, but before him it was The Admiral. Robinson’s elite 14-year career (all with San Antonio) was historic. Just how well-rounded was he? Over the span of his career, he won a scoring title (1994), rebounding title (1991), and blocks title (1992). He was a 10-time All-Star and won two rings alongside Duncan in 1999 and 2003. 

5. Dirk Nowitzki (7-0, 1998-2019)

Maybe higher on this list than others would expect, but hear us out: sixth all-time in scoring, 14 All-Star appearances, an MVP, a 2011 title, and one of the first 7-footers to extend beyond the 3-point line on a regular basis. Nowitzki’s 1,982 made 3s are more than the rest of this list combined (by a longshot), and we love the fact that he played 21 seasons with one team during some prime free agency years. Nowitzki truly changed the game and opened a lot of doors for international players with his elite stretch in the 2000s and early 2010s. He might be the worst defender on the list, but his shooting, scoring, and accolades are up there with anyone on the list. And he’s got a statue now.

4. Hakeem Olajuwon (7-0, 1984-2002)

Honestly, we could have Dirk here, but we would also have no issue if you want to put The Dream higher on this list. Arguably the greatest 7-foot defender in the history of the league, Olajuwon is the NBA’s all-time leader in blocks (2,830), a two-time Defensive Player of the Year—and one of two players (Michael Jordan) to win MVP the same year. He’s a two-time NBA champion, 12-time All-Star, and appeared five times on both the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA First Team. Did we mention he also averaged 21.8 points over an 18-year career? The Dream truly did it all.

3. Wilt Chamberlain (7-1, 1959-1974)

NBA fans can debate Wilt’s placement here and the competition his era played at, but the numbers don’t lie. His 30.1 career points per hame (most all-time), 22.9 rebounds (most all-time), 4.4 assists (most all-time among seven-footers) is otherworldly, no matter his opponent. Four MVPs, two titles, 13 All-Star appearances, and seven All-NBA First Team nods. He has hundreds of records that will never be broken. Our favorite was in 1962, when Wilt averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds in 48.5 minutes per game in one of the most ridiculous stat lines ever. Even though he’s third on this list of best big men, there’s a strong argument for him being on the top spot on this list.

2. Shaquille O’Neal (7-1, 1993-2011)

We can argue that Wilt was more dominating, but there’s never been a player more viscerally dominating in the history of the league than Shaq A physical specimen at 7-foot-1, 325 pounds of pure density with the ability to move like a man 7 inches shorter. O’Neal’s prime from 1993 to 2006 saw him average 26.3 points and 11.8 rebounds while winning five titles, earning 13 All-Star berths, and an MVP. His Phoenix/Cleveland/Boston days toward the end of his career plummeted his career averages, but there’s no denying prime Shaq was one of the best to ever do it.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (7-2, 1969-1989)

It may change in the coming months when LeBron James passes him, but as of right now no player has scored as many points in NBA history as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On top of that, KAJ has 19 All-Star Games nods, six NBA championship, six league MVPs, and is 10-time All-NBA First Team member. It all speaks for itself. His patented skyhook helped make the Showtime Lakers what they were, and he did it on both ends: he’s still third in rebounds and blocks nearly 35 years after his retirement. 

The 32 Best Seven-Footers Ever

The NBA has had no shortage of 7-footers in the league, but considering there’s been dozens of players that hit the 213.36 cm (and above) threshold, there’s only been approximately thirty players that have made their mark in the league whether that was all-star appearances, rebounding, or blocking shots. Here’s the full list extending out to 33 seven-footers:

NBA's Best 7-Footers of All-Time
Rank Player Height
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 7-2
2 Shaq O'Neal 7-1
3 Wilt Chamberlain 7-1
4 Hakeem Olajuwon 7-0
5 Dirk Nowitzki 7-0
6 David Robinson 7-1
7 Patrick Ewing 7-0
8 Robert Parish 7-1
9 Joel Embiid 7-0
10 Pau Gasol 7-1
11 Artis Gilmore 7-2
12 Dikembe Mutombo 7-2
13 Rudy Gobert 7-1
14 Yao Ming 7-6
15 Karl-Anthony Towns 7-0
16 Zydrunas Ilgauskas 7-3
17 Brook Lopez 7-0
18 Arvydas Sabonis 7-3
19 Vlade Divac 7-1
20 Ralph Sampson 7-4
21 Tyson Chandler 7-0
23 Rik Smits 7-4
24 Kristaps Porzingis 7-3
25 Domantas Sabonis 7-1
26 Mark Eaton 7-4
27 Bill Cartwright 7-1
28 Brad Daugherty 7-0
29 Kevin Willis 7-0
30 Manute Bol 7-7
31 Kevin Duckworth 7-0
32 James Donaldson 7-2
33 Shawn Bradley 7-6

Did we miss your favorite seven-footer or disagree with how we’ve ranked them? I’m sure we did (and sure you do)j. If you think we left any big man off the list, let us know in the comments below.

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