10 Shortest Centers in the NBA

Last Updated on: 28th November 2023, 01:22 am

In the world of basketball, size doesn’t always determine success. As the saying goes, ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.’ This sentiment holds for the 10 Shortest Centers in the NBA.

Despite their lack of height, these players have proven themselves to be formidable forces on the court. Their skill, athleticism, and unwavering determination have significantly contributed to their teams. This list showcases their remarkable achievements and shows that being short is not a disadvantage in basketball.

shortest centers in the nba

These centers inspire aspiring players, showing them that anything is possible with the right mindset and a passion for the game.

Ed Sadowski

Ed Sadowski, a former NBA player, stood out as one of the shortest centers in the league during his career. In a section of the article titled ‘Shortest Centers in the NBA’, it’s important to highlight Sadowski’s impact on the game.

Despite his height disadvantage, Sadowski’s determination and skill made him an invaluable asset to his team. Standing just 6 feet 5 inches, he faced formidable opponents who towered over him. However, Sadowski compensated for his lack of height with his agility, speed, and basketball IQ.

His ability to outsmart taller players and find creative ways to score and defend made him a respected center in the NBA. Sadowski’s success is a testament to the fact that height isn’t the only factor defining a great center in basketball.

Chuck Hayes

A versatile and tenacious player, Chuck Hayes defied expectations as one of the shortest centers in the NBA. Standing at just 6’6′, he proved that height doesn’t always dictate a player’s performance in their position. Hayes’ playing history and performance on the court have made him a significant figure in the history of shorter centers.

Here are three reasons why Chuck Hayes stands out among his peers:

  1. Exceptional Post-Defense: Despite his height disadvantage, Hayes showcased exceptional post-defense skills. He used his strength and tenacity to outmaneuver taller opponents, making it difficult for them to score in the paint.
  2. Rebounding Prowess: Hayes consistently outperformed taller players in terms of rebounding. His ability to read the game and position himself well allowed him to grab crucial rebounds, contributing to his team’s success.
  3. High Basketball IQ: Hayes’ understanding of the game and his ability to make smart decisions on the court were instrumental in his success as a shorter center. He knew how to utilize his strengths and exploit his opponents’ weaknesses, making him an invaluable asset to his teams.

Chuck Hayes has left a lasting legacy as one of the shortest centers in NBA history, proving that heart, determination, and skill can overcome physical limitations.

Wes Unseld

Wes Unseld, a pioneering figure among the shortest centers in the NBA, defied expectations and proved that height isn’t always a limiting factor in basketball. Standing at 6’7′, Unseld may have been considered undersized compared to other big men in the league, but he more than made up for it with his exceptional skills and determination.

He consistently outperformed taller opponents throughout his career, showcasing his ability to hold his own against the NBA’s biggest centers. Unseld’s impact on the court was undeniable, as evidenced by his impressive statistics. He averaged 10.8 points and a remarkable 14 rebounds per game, with an astounding 18.2 rebounds per game in his rookie season.

Unseld’s success and contribution to the game further highlight that being the shortest center in the NBA doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact.

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson, known for his successful coaching career in the NBA, brings a unique perspective to the discussion of the shortest centers in the league. While he may not have played the position, his years of experience coaching and studying the game gave him valuable insights.

Here are three key points from Phil Jackson’s perspective:

  1. Content over Height: Jackson emphasizes that a player’s skill set and basketball IQ are more important than height. He believes that a center’s ability to read the game-set screens and make smart passes can greatly impact their team’s success.
  2. Strength and Agility: According to Jackson, a shorter center must compensate for their lack of height by being strong and agile. They should focus on developing their footwork, positioning, and physicality to hold their ground against taller opponents.
  3. Versatility and Adaptability: In Jackson’s view, a shorter center should be versatile and able to play different roles on the court. He or she should be comfortable playing in the low post and able to stretch the floor and shoot from outside.

Through his unique perspective, Phil Jackson highlights that height isn’t the sole determinant of a center’s effectiveness in the NBA.

Boris Diaw

Boris Diaw’s versatility and impact on the game make him a standout among the shortest centers in the NBA. Standing at 6’8′, Diaw defied conventional expectations for the center position with his ability to make three-pointers and facilitate ball movement.

Known for his basketball IQ and court vision, Diaw was a key player in Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns teams, where he showcased his unique skill set. His ability to play multiple positions and contribute in various ways made him a valuable asset to the teams he played for, including the San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, and Utah Jazz.

Diaw’s unconventional style of play challenged traditional notions of what a center should be, proving that size isn’t always the determining factor for success in the NBA.

Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo, known for his defensive prowess and physical dominance in the paint, consistently showcases his impact on the game as one of the shortest centers in the NBA. Despite his height disadvantage compared to other centers, Biyombo’s skills and determination make him a formidable force on the court.

Here are three reasons why Bismack Biyombo stands out among the top centers in the league:

  1. Defensive excellence: Biyombo’s shot-blocking ability and tenacious defense make him a valuable asset to any team. He consistently disrupts opponents’ shots and alters their offensive strategies, earning him a reputation as a defensive stalwart.
  2. Rebounding machine: Bismack Biyombo possesses a knack for grabbing rebounds, using his strength and positioning to outmuscle taller opponents. His rebounding prowess allows his team to gain extra possessions and create scoring opportunities.
  3. Physicality and toughness: Biyombo isn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint despite his height. He embraces contact and uses his strength to hold his ground against bigger opponents, establishing himself as a physical presence in the game.

Bismack Biyombo’s impact as one of the shortest centers in the NBA can’t be understated. His defensive skills, rebounding ability, and physicality make him a valuable asset to any team.

Antonio McDyess

Playing as a power forward and center for several NBA teams, Antonio McDyess showcased his athleticism and rebounding skills. At 6’9′, he was considered one of the shorter centers in the league. However, he made up for what he lacked in height with his tenacity and versatility on the court.

McDyess could hold his own against taller opponents, using his physicality and agility to compete in the paint. His ability to play above the rim and defend the paint made him a valuable asset for his teams. McDyess’ rebounding skills were particularly impressive, as he consistently battled against bigger players for boards. He was known to outbound notable centers like Chuck Hayes, Ben Wallace, and Diaw, proving that size isn’t everything in the NBA.

Joel Anthony

Standing 6’9, Joel Anthony brought a strong defensive presence to the court for the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Detroit Pistons. Despite being one of the shortest centers in the NBA, Anthony proved that height isn’t the only factor that matters.

Here are three reasons why Joel Anthony was one of the best defensive centers of his time:

  1. Shot-blocking prowess: Anthony had a knack for timing his blocks perfectly, making it difficult for opponents to score in the paint.
  2. Tenacity and determination: He never backed down from a challenge and gave his all on every defensive possession.
  3. A valuable asset to his teams: Anthony’s defensive skills and work ethic made him an instrumental part of the success of the Miami Heat, especially during their championship-winning seasons.

Just like Boris Diaw, another undersized center, Joel Anthony defied expectations and showed that size doesn’t always determine a player’s impact on the court. His defensive abilities were a sight to see.

Dave Cowens

Despite not being the tallest center in the NBA, Dave Cowens showcased exceptional defensive skills and leadership throughout his career. Standing at just 6’9′, Cowens proved that height wasn’t the only factor in determining success as a center. His toughness and determination on the court earned him the NBA MVP award in the 1972-1973 season.

Cowens was known for his defensive prowess, earning three selections to the NBA All-Defensive team. He played for the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, leaving a lasting impact on both teams.

Cowens’ leadership qualities were also evident, as he guided his teammates and motivated them to perform at their best. Despite his shorter stature, Cowens demonstrated that skill, tenacity, and a strong work ethic were essential to excel as a center in the NBA.

Al Horford

Despite being one of the shortest centers in the NBA, Al Horford has significantly impacted the game with his versatile skills and contributions on both court ends. Standing at 6’9′, Horford has defied expectations and proved that height isn’t the only measure of success in the center position.

Here are three reasons why Horford has stood out among his taller counterparts:

  1. Mid-range mastery: Horford is known for his mid-range jumpers. His shooting ability stretches the floor and forces opposing big men out of their comfort zones.
  2. Defensive prowess: Horford’s help defense is exceptional, as he consistently rotates and disrupts opponents’ plays. His basketball IQ and quick reactions make him a valuable asset on the defensive end.
  3. Playmaking skills: Horford’s passing ability sets him apart from traditional centers. He can facilitate plays, create opportunities for his teammates, and make smart decisions with the ball.

Despite his height disadvantage, Al Horford continues to prove that skill, versatility, and basketball IQ can outweigh physical attributes in the NBA.


In conclusion, these ten shortest centers in the NBA have proven that height is just a number for basketball. Despite their stature, they’ve showcased their skills and determination, defying expectations and making significant contributions to their teams.

Their success stories serve as a reminder that greatness can come in all shapes and sizes. So, don’t let anyone measure your potential based on height alone – reach for the stars and show them that size doesn’t matter. It’s all about the heart.