Athletic seven footers in the NBA are some of the most coveted players in sports.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Having said that, I was surprised to find that the most productive big men in the NBA measure under seven feet tall.
When I sat down to write an article today, I wanted to look at the tallest players in the league and compare their height to their on-the-court production. So I looked at the best big men, meaning the most productive players from a stat sheet standpoint, that played as either forwards or centers. What I found was that the majority of them stood in the 6'10" - 6'11" range. (I purposely excluded the larger, more dominant guards that can play every position like Lebron and Durant.)
Tim Duncan - 6'11"
Blake Griffin - 6'10"
Dwight Howard - 6'11"
Chris Bosh - 6'11"
Kevin Love - 6'10"
Amare Stoudemire - 6'11"
So what ballers in the NBA stand seven feet and post solid numbers?? Here's 8:
1.) Brook Lopez - 7'0" - Center
Lopez was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in 2008 after playing two seasons at Stanford. He immediately made an impact as a rookie, averaging 13 points a game, and has only gotten better. To some degree, Jay-Z's Nets, which are now Brooklyn's finest, have been built around the big man. Last season, Lopez averaged 19.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Surprisingly, though, that he averaged under 4 rebounds per game at 7 feet tall.
2.) Dirk Nowitzki - 7'0" - Forward
Nowitzki is the anomaly on this list only because he's seven foot tall forward that plays more like a guard. But the Mavericks and Mark Cuban certainly haven't been complaining. The big fella from Germany averaged 21.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for Dallas last season. Not to mention, he averaged just under 27 points per game in their first round playoff series loss against OKC. Like him or not, the seven footer can ball.
3.) Javale McGee - 7'0" - Center
While not the most impressive player on this list from a statistical standpoint, (he averaged 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last year) I had to include McGee because I saw him play against the Lakers last season in the first round of the playoffs against Denver - and he was definitely impressive. We couldn't figure out if it was because Bynum was pouting and Gasol was playing soft but regardless, he owned both of them that game. (Sidenote: Bynum and Gasol are both on this list as you'll read below). And while the Nuggets would eventually lose the series to LA, they won that game; and it was largely due to the fact that Javale McGee went for 21 points and 14 rebounds. Homeboy was possessed.
4.) Andrew Bynum - 7'0" - Center
Although he's been widely criticized for his attitude problems, there's no disputing Bynum's talent. The youngest player ever to play in an NBA regular season game (at 18 years and 6 days old) finished last season with the Lakers having averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. He was traded to Philadelphia this offseason, where I think he will be one of the greatest players to ever put on a 76ers uniform. But that's TBD.
5.) Pau Gasol - 7'0" - Forward/Center
Pau gets a bad wrap for being soft, and maybe he is, but he puts up numbers. He averaged 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game last season for the Los Angeles Lakers. But even more than that, he has soft hands, is a great passer for his size and shoots over 78% from the free throw line, which compared to his seven-foot peers, is pretty astounding.
6.) Marc Gasol - 7'1" - Center
Marc Gasol, the younger and taller brother of Pau, is a big baller as well. Interestingly enough, Gasol was acquired by Memphis in 2007 from the Lakers in a package deal for his brother Pau. In the past few seasons, he has been a big reason that the Grizzlies have turned into a contender and even made it to the playoffs the last two years in a row. Marc averaged 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds for the Grizz last season.
7.) Roy Hibbert - 7'2" - Center
Hibbert, who played all four years and graduated from Georgetown, was drafted by Toronto in 2008 and immediately traded to the Pacers on draft night. His best year with Indiana was his most recent, where he averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on the season, and in game 1 of the first round of the playoffs against the Magic, Hibbert recorded a career-high 9 blocked shots. Something tells me there's more games like that in Hibbert's bright future; the Pacers re-signed him to a 4-year $58 million deal in July.
8.) Andrea Bargnani - 7'0" - Forward/Center
Probably the least known of the big men on this list, Bargnani became the first European to be selected with the number one overall pick in an NBA Draft when the Raptors picked him in 2006. Bargnani was born in Rome, Italy and is nicknamed "Il Mago" aka "The Magician." He played a few seasons in Italy before making it to the NBA and averaged an 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for Toronto last season.
Questions or comments?? Let us know, Hoopsvibers.
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Image source: AP Images