One of the most important attributes an NBA player can have is height. Obviously height can help a player on the defensive end of the floor, while also making it easier to grab rebounds.
Today we will showcase their careers and determine if there is anyone in today’s game who can come close to matching their height and career length.
Manute Bol’s career
Manute Bol was a defensive menace during his time in the NBA. When you stand at a reported 7′ 6.75 inch, getting blocks is similar to picking apples off of a tree. As a rookie with the Washington Bullets Bol averaged over five blocks per game. He wasn’t the most offensively skilled player in the post, but he made up for it on defense.
Overall for his career, he averaged over three blocks per game, and one of his career highlights was blocking four consecutive attempts at the hoop.
Bol played 10 seasons in the NBA, leading the league in blocks two times and earning an All-Defensive team during his historic rookie season.
Gheorghe Muresan’s career
The other end of the skill spectrum was Gheorghe Muresan. He was a very good player for the Washington Bullets and was the 1995-96 NBA’s Most Improved Player after putting up 14 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game that season.
Unfortunately, his career was derailed by injuries after that. He played just seven NBA seasons before retiring in 2000.
Why it’s rare to have long careers at that height
The big issue with players standing over 7’0 is the amount of pressure it puts on the knee and ankle joints to carry so much weight up and down the court. You can go through the long list of big men whose careers were cut short by injuries. Longtime NBA fans will look a Sam Bowie as the most famous injury-plagued big man, but Bill Walton is also in the discussion.
Bowie is well known for being selected over Michael Jordan in the 1983 NBA Draft, and he never lived up to his full potential. Although Walton was a dynamic passing and scoring big in the ’70s, he also had to retire early because of injuries.
Who is the next historically tall NBA star?
Heading into the 2019 NBA Draft, there were two players that could have staked a claim as the next great tall player. The first is Manute Bol’s son, Bol Bol. Where his father couldn’t seem to ever put the ball in the hoop, Bol Bol was one of the top players in the 2018 high school class for his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor.
He was drafted in the second round by the Denver Nuggets and has a chance to make their roster once training camp starts. The other popular player is Tacko Fall. He had a very good summer league and was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Boston Celtics, which means he can earn a roster spot this season.
We think the more likely scenario is Fall playing a year or two in the G-league, before making his NBA debut during the 2021 season.
Do you think taller players have a place in today’s NBA?
When we look at the way the NBA’s offense has changed over the last decade, is there a chance any player will break the NBA record for the tallest player in league history? If you want more content from around the league be sure to check out our NBA section.