It’s not news that basketball players tend to be on the tall side. But did you know that the average height of an NBA player is 6 feet 7 inches? When your career depends on your ability to take lengthy strides and reach 10-foot-high baskets, it’s not very surprising that the taller a basketball player, the better suited they are for the game.
Although there have been some short players in the NBA over the years, the vast majority of players tend to be giants (at least by non-NBA standards). Being tall is an advantage to both offensive as well as defensive players. From delivering the perfect slam dunk or 3-pointer, to preventing someone else from doing so, a player’s height plays a crucial role at every stage in the game. Since the goal of basketball is to deliver the ball to such a high basket, the advantages of being tall are pretty obvious. So, players who reach staggering heights (pun intended) in the sport are usually those who are taller than their opponents.
However, height is not the only factor that determines a player’s success in the game. The tallest players may not necessarily be the most speedy or agile. Many tall players may be clumsy because of the added coordination it requires for them to move around the court. Generally speaking, the highest-paid players are those who have a perfect combo of height and agility. Of course, being associated with a successful team helps as well. Here we list out the 10 tallest active NBA superstars and see how their salaries measure up.
10. Andrea Bargnani – 7’0″ – $10.75 million in 2013-14
Currently wearing jersey number 7 in the New York Knicks, Andrea Bargnani is originally from Italy. Standing 7’0″ tall and weighing in at 256 pounds, Bragnani began his basketball career in 2006. Before joining the Knicks squad, he played for the Toronto Raptors from 2006 to 2013. Nicknamed “Il Mago”, or “The Magician”, he helped the Raptors reach the Playoffs in his first two seasons with the team. Bargnani played in the Italian Serie A and the Euroleague prior to joining the NBA. As a forward for the Knicks, the 27-year-old athlete is making $10.75 million this season.
9. Joel Przybilla – 7’1″ – $1.35 million in 2013-14
Joel Przybilla stands at a formidable height of 7’1” and weighs 245 pounds. A veteran player, Przybilla is 33 years old and began his basketball career in 2000 when he was drafted ninth overall by the Houston Rockets, but was traded to Milwaukee the same day for first-round pick Jason Collier and a future first-rounder. Born and raised in America, he is of German and Polish descent. Przybilla went to college in Minnesota from 1998 to 2000. He is currently associated with the Milwaukee Bucks and is making $1.35 million this season, but has previously played for the Houston Rockets, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Blazers. In 2009, he was fined $7,500 for a flagrant foul against Tyson Chandler.
8. Meyers Leonard – 7’1″ – $2.22 million in 2013-14
Meyers Leonard is an up-and-coming superstar currently occupying jersey number 11 for the Portland Trail Blazers. At 7’1″ and 245 lbs, this 21-year-old is already a prominent center player for his team. Leonard began his basketball career in 2012 when he was drafted 11th overall by Portland. He was born in a small town called Robinson in the state of Illinois, and previously played for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Having lost his father in a bicycle accident when he was just six years old, Leonard lived with a surrogate family since he was in second grade. He signed a three-year deal with the Trail Blazers for $6.67 million and is making $2.22 million for 2013-14.
7. Timofey Mozgov – 7’1″ – $4.4 million in 2013-14
Originally from Russia, Timofey Mozgov is currently a center for the Denver Nuggets. This 26 year old stands 7’1″ tall and weighs 250 pounds. He began his basketball career in 2010 and was a member of the Russian national basketball team in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as the 2011 FIBA European Championships in Lithuania. His team won bronze in both these competitions. Mozgov also represented Russia at European events such as the Eurobasket in 2009 and 2011. After a brief career with the Knicks, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2011 as part of a blockbuster deal that saw Carmelo Anthony go to New York. Mozgov is making $4.4 million this season as part of a two-year deal he signed with the Nuggets.
6. Spencer Hawes – 7’1″ – $6.6 million in 2013-14
Jersey Number 0 for the Philadephia 76ers, Spencer Hawes stands 7’1” tall and plays in the center position. Before beginning his NBA career in 2007, the 25-year-old played for the University of Washington. From 2007 to 2010 Hawes played for the Sacramento Kings, and was then traded to the 76ers. He was a member of the gold medal-winning US men’s basketball team in the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship. Besides being a basketball star, Hawes loves to debate politics and is a fervent admirer of George W. Bush. The big man is making $6.6 million in 2013-14.
5. Marc Gasol – 7’1″ – $14.86 in 2013-14
Marc Gasol plays as a center for the Memphis Grizzlies. The 7’1”, 265 pound 28-year-old is originally from Spain and began his basketball career as 48th overall pick by the LA Lakers in 2007. He was on the NBA All-Star team in 2012 and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award the next year. He is also the younger brother of Lakers power forward Pau Gasol. Marc was a member of the Spanish national team that won the gold medal in the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan. His brilliant performance with the Grizzlies has earned him a salary of $14.86 million for the 2013-14 season.
4. Tyson Chandler – 7’1″ – $14.1 million in 2013-14
Standing 7’1″ and weighing in at 240 pounds, Tyson Chandler currently wears the number 6 for the ever-popular New York Knicks. The 30-year-old star started his basketball career way back in 2001 as the second overall pick for the LA Clippers but was immediately traded to Chicago. Besides the Knicks and the Bulls, Chandler has also played for the New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats and Dallas Mavericks. He also played in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics as a member of the United States men’s national basketball team. Due to his great performance with the Knicks, Chandler is taking home $14.1 million in 2013-14.
3. Hamed Haddadi – 7’2″ – $1.3 million in 2013-14
Hamed Haddadi stands 7’2” tall, and currently plays as a center for the Phoenix Suns. Originally from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Haddadi is 28 years old and weighs 263 pounds. The first Iranian to play in the NBA, he played in the top leagues of his home country before beginning his NBA career in 2008. He first joined the Memphis Grizzlies before moving to the Phoenix Suns in 2013. Haddadi is a three-time winner of the Asian Championship MVP award (2007, 2009, 2013), and a two-time member of the Asian Championship all-star team (2011, 2013). With two years left on his contract with the Suns, Haddadi is making $1.3 million this season.
2. Roy Hibbert – 7’2″ – $14.28 million in 2013-14
Currently playing as a center for the Indiana Pacers, Roy Hibbert stands 7’2” tall and weighs 280 pounds. The 27-year-old graduated from Georgetown University in 2008 and began his NBA career in the same year. He was selected 17th overall by the Toronto Raptors and was traded to the Pacers on the night of the draft. Because he has a dual American and Jamaican citizenship, Hibbert has often represented Jamaica in international competitions. He was selected for his first All-Star game in 2012. As a basketball superstar, Roy Hibbert is in the midst of a four-year, $58.37 million deal with the Indiana Pacers, good for $14.28 million in 2013-2014.
1. Hasheem Thabeet – 7’3″ – $1.2 million in 2013-14
Towering in at 7’3”, Hasheem Thabeet is the tallest active NBA player today. Originally from the United Republic of Tanzania, this 26 year old currently plays as a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Having played basketball since he was 15 years old, Thabeet donned Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, and Portland Trail Blazers jerseys before joining the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. He also played for the University of Connecticut from 2006 to 2009, winning the coveted NABC Defensive Player of the Year Award two years in a row in his last two seasons. Despite his gargantuan stature, Thabeet has the smallest salary of any player on this list, pulling down only $1.2 million for the 2013-14 season.