The NBA is the league of the giants. The game may not have been designed for players that are closer to the rim, but the advantage is clear. Not that taller players aren’t skilled or talented, but being born closer to your target is an privilege that will help you in the professional game. If you’re a player that happened to be under the 6-foot mark, you must have the most rare combination of skill, heart, hand-eye-coordination and talent to make it to the NBA.
The increased demand for basketball has led to a change in the way NBA matches are available to spectators. ExpressVPN has discovered in their research that in 2021 more and more of us were watching the NBA through live streaming, compared to 2017. It’s because we want to see the action at all times using our mobile devices to watch matches as they happen and to ensure we don’t miss those incredible plays.
What often comes with height is another unteachable attribute: the length of one’s arms otherwise known as wingspan. All things being equal, the coupling of being tall and having longer than normal arms doubles your advantage on both ends of the court. Think of Kevin Durant’s rare mix of height (7-feet), handles, shooting ability, athleticism, and a 7-5 wingspan that gives him the peace of mind that no defender could ever block his shot.
The Longest NBA Wingspans of All-Time
What does wingspan mean when it comes to NBA players — during the draft combine, incoming NBA prospects wingspans’ are calculated by stretching a measuring tape from fingertip to fingertip; the longest fingertip of the left hand to the longest fingertip of the right hand. Wingspan is important for all NBA players, but seemed to be weighted heavier for big men as rebounding, blocking shots and defending the rim are traditional requirements from that position.
Wingspan is very much proportionate, too — meaning the players who have had the widest wingspans in the history of the NBA are mostly in the seven foot range.
18. Andre Drummond – 7’6.25″
Andre Drummond is a two-time NBA All-Star with the Detroit Pistons. Standing at 6-11, Drummond used his long arms, timing and size to lead the league in rebounding four times in five years (2016, 2018-2020). During that stretch, it wasn’t uncommon for Drummond to pull in 20 rebounds or more.
16. Mark Williams – 7’6.5″
16. Alonzo Mourning – 7’6.5″
We’ve always found it amazing that Alonzo Mourning was a league leader in shot blocking during his time in the NBA. Standing at 6’10, the center for the Charlotte Hornets and with the Miami Heat during their run to the 2006 NBA title was considered to be on the shorter side when it came to big men. Seeing that he had a wingspan of over seven and a half feet makes more sense. Zo was a seven-time All-Star and was named defensive player of the year twice and is now the NBA’s Vice President of Player Programs and Development.
12. Bruno Caboclo – 7’7”
12. Shaquille O’Neal – 7-foot 7-inches
12. Hassan Whiteside: 7-foot 7-inches
12. Bol Bol: 7-foot 7-inches
Caboclo was a journeyman player around the NBA for a number of years between 2014 and 2021, playing 34 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2018/19 campaign. He even made two appearances for Houston in the 2020 post-season.
11. Udoka Azubuike – 7-foot 7.25″
Azubuike’s career has not taken off yet, but he certainly has the raw potential and frame to be a success. He was drafted 27th overall in 2022 by Utah, but injuries have limited his game time over the three years of his career.
9. Dwight Howard – 7-foot 8-inches
According to Sports Illustrated: Howard is as close as there is to the perfect rebounding specimen. Just under 7 feet, he is a muscular 265 pounds, so broad across the top that, with a T-shirt on, he could be mistaken for wearing shoulder pads. His wingspan is 7’8″, his standing vertical jump 38 inches. He can kiss the rim on a dunk and says that, on two occasions, he has touched the top of the backboard.
9. Wilt Chamberlain – 7-foot 8-inches
7. Mouhamed Sene – 7-foot 8.5-inches
7. Rudy Gobert – 7-foot 8.5-inches
Gobert is one of the most decorated players on our list. During an illustrious career with the Jazz, he has been named defensive player of the year three times along with six NBA First-Team appearances.
6. Alexis Ajinca – 7-foot 9-inches
Ajinca played eight seasons in the NBA for five different teams. His best years came with the New Orleans Pelicans between 2013 and 2015 where he made three appearances in the post-season.
4. Boban Marjanovic – 7-foot 10-inches
4. Mo Bamba – 7-foot 10-inches
Marjanovic and Bamba are joint third with a wingspan of 7’10”. Marjanovic has been a useful player over the seven years of his career, bouncing around several teams. Bamba has been a solid presence in the Orlando Magic line-up for five years after being selected sixth overall in the 2018 Draft but has not truly developed into an elite starter.
3. Kevin McHale – 8-foot
If you ever watched Kevin McHale play for any amount of time, one thing you had to notice was the length of his arms. Reportedly (but not confirmed) the legendary Celtic power forward had a wingspan that was eight feet long. If true, that wingspan would dwarf his height of 6’10.
2. Tacko Fall – 8-foot 2-inches
Like Boban, Tacko Fall is a fan favorite that only requires one name. At 7-foot 6-inches tall, Fall is one of the tallest players to grace the NBA. His 8-foot 2-inch wingspan is the second-longest wingspan in the history of the league.
1. Manute Bol – 8-foot 6-inches
At 7-foot, 7-inches the late great Manute Bol is taller than Fall and enjoyed a relatively successful career in the NBA thanks to his height and unreal 8-foot 6-inch wingspan. The combination of his length helped Manute lead the league in blocks in 1986 and 1989, being named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 1986, and a crazy 31 block triple double game when Manute was in college.
When you see Michael Jordan’s wingspan is just 6-feet, 11 inches, you have to keep in mind that the average human wingspan is 5-foot and 9 inches. And the typical wingspan calculation is to add two inches to one’s height.
Which NBA player has the shortest wingspan in NBA history? That official record goes to two players Shane Larkin and J. J. Barea who both had wingspans meaured at exactly 5’10.75″ — that’s shorter than the players actual height of 5’11”. Another player whose wingspan was shorter than their height? Yao Ming. The Chinese center from the early 2000’s stood 7-foot 6-inches, but had a wingspan one inch shorter at 7-5.
Thanks for Crafted NBA for putting this list together.