The NBA is made up of players of all shapes, sizes and skill sets that set them apart on their respective teams and within the league. At the forward/center position, there have been some absolute mismatches in size throughout NBA history, perhaps none greater than 7’5” skilled center Yao Ming. Conversely, a 6’4” or 6’5” post player like Charles Barkley can still find a way to become MVP.
Everyone knows about the prototypical post players who excel in the league like Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. What about the outliers on who aren’t as vertically gifted? How is it that they are able to match up and/or thrive in the league dominated by a “type” of all-around big man?
From our observations, the typical NBA power forward’s ideal height is 6’9” +/- 1” (give or take an inch) and is around 235 lbs. +/- 15 lb.s. The typical NBA center stands about 6’11” +/- 2” and 250 lb. +/- 15 lbs. Meaning if a power forward stands just under 6’8” or a center is under 6’10”, they are technically “undersized” relative to NBA competition at their position.
However, being undersized is not an overwhelming hindrance or dooming factor on a player’s career. Conversely and true to Darwin’s natural selection of “only the strong survive,” it allows players to utilize their gifts and adapt to play the game in a different way that puts pressure and forces those “prototypical size post players” to adjust their styles. Here’s a closer look at the stronger contributing factors for undersized big men to perform well in the NBA.