April 11, 2006

NBA players not getting taller

Basketball players used to get taller all the time, but not anymore. The average height of an NBA player at the beginning of the 2005-2006 season was 6'-7.18", down from 6'-7.36" 20 years before. For each of the last 20 years, players have averaged more than 6'-7" and less than 6'-8". (Average weight, however, has gone up from 214.4 to 223.1 pounds, with the largest increase taking place in the early 1990s.) This stability in height is rather surprising, however, considering how much more globalized is the pool of athletes from which the NBA is now drawn. Although Americans aren't getting much taller, lots of foreign populations are.

Perhaps the NBA has gotten more rigorous about measuring athletes' heights (e.g., Charles Barkley, drafted in 1984, was usually listed at 6'-6" but was really about 6'-4"). Or perhaps there has been a trend toward more agile and coordinated -- and thus, all else being equal, shorter -- players that has balanced out the trend toward taller players that drawing from a larger pool would normally induce.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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