The NBA is loaded with talent like never before from diminutive guards such as Trae Young to dominant big men seven feet tall and over such as Joel Embiid. But what about those players that are just a shade under 7 feet tall? Are they centers or power forwards or a hybrid of the two?
No matter what position you classify them, some of the best players in the world stand at 6’ 11”. Let’s run down the top NBA players that just barely fail to crack the 7-foot-tall barrier.
Note that some of these players are listed at 6’ 10” or 7’, but the consensus is that they are 6’ 11”.
Top 8 NBA players that are just a shade under 7 feet tall
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
Jokic was drafted by the Nuggets 41st overall in 2014. The 27-year-old from Sombor, Serbia was a member of the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2015-16 after averaging 10 points and seven rebounds per game.
He averaged a double-double two seasons later and made his first All-Star team in 2018-19 averaging 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. Jokic elevated his game further, winning the league MVP in 2020-21 after averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game.
He topped those numbers in 2021-22, winning his second straight league MVP, and has a chance to become only the fourth player in league history to win the award three consecutive years, joining Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo was selected by the Bucks with the 15th overall pick as a 19-year-old in 2013. Known as “The Greek Freak”, Antetokounmpo averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds as a rookie in 25 minutes per game.
He gradually increased his production over the next two seasons and made his first All-Star appearance in 2016-17 when he averaged 23 points and 9 rebounds per game. Antetokounmpo has averaged at least 27 points and 10 rebounds per game each season since, making the All-Star team six straight seasons. In the midst, he also won back-to-back MVP awards in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to an NBA title in 2020-21, the first for the franchise since 1970-71. Antetokounmpo is averaging 31 points per game this season and has career averages of 22.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game.
Domantas Sabonis – Sacramento Kings
Sabonis comes from a basketball heritage, as his father Arvydas starred in Europe and six seasons in the NBA. Sabonis was drafted 11th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2016 out of Gonzaga. He averaged a modest 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a rookie.
Sabonis increased his production over the next two seasons before blossoming into an All-Star in 2019-20 when he averaged 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. He made his second straight All-Star team the following season when he surpassed 20 points per game. Sabonis consistently averages over 12 rebounds per game and is currently leading the NBA in rebounding this season at 12.6 per game.
He has a great all-around game, hitting 54 percent of his shots for his career with averages of 14.8 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony was selected first overall in the 2015 NBA Draft out of Kentucky. He played in every game his first three seasons, winning the rookie of the year in 2015-16 after averaging 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
He quickly became one of the best offensive players in the league the following season, averaging 25.1 points per game. Towns made his first of three All-Star teams in 2017-18 and averaged at least 10 rebounds per game each of his first six seasons.
Towns is one of the best three-point shooters in the league for a big man, hitting at least 40 percent of his shots beyond the arc four seasons. Towns is also an excellent free throw shooter, hitting nearly 89 percent this season and 84 percent for his career.
Towns has started all 503 NBA games he’s appeared in and has career averages of 23 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Jaren Jackson Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies
Jackson was selected by the Grizzlies 4th overall in 2018 out of Michigan State. His father played in the NBA for 12 NBA seasons from 1989 to 2002.
Jackson made the NBA All-Rookie team in 2018-19 as a 19-year-old when he averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Starting 57 games in 2019-20, Jackson averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocked shots per game.
He was limited to 11 games the following season after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. Jackson rebounded to play and start 78 games in 2021-22 averaging 16.3 points and a league-leading 2.3 blocked shots per game. Still only 23 years of age, Jackson has increased his numbers again this season, averaging 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.3 blocked shots per game.
Lauri Markkanen – Utah Jazz
Markkanen, born in Vantaa, Finland, was selected 7th overall by the Timberwolves in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Arizona. He was traded on draft night to the Chicago Bulls and made All-Rookie Team, averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds. He increased his production in 2018-2019, averaging 18.7 points and 9 rebounds, while hitting 36 percent from three-point range.
Markkanen was consistent with the Bulls over the next two seasons, averaging around 14 points and 6 rebounds per game. Markkanen was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the start of the 2021-22 season and averaged 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds in his lone season with the team.
He was traded once again a year later to the Utah Jazz and this season is averaging a career-best 24.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Evan Mobley – Cleveland Cavaliers
Mobley was born on June 18, 2001, in San Diego, California. He was a standout in his single season at USC when he averaged 16.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Mobley was selected 3rd overall by the Cavaliers in the 2021 NBA Draft. He was a member of the 2021-22 All-Rookie Team when averaging 15 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocked shots per game.
In 44 games this season, Mobley is averaging 14.5 points on 56 percent shooting from the floor and 8.9 rebounds per game. Look for Mobley to make some All-Star teams in the future and will ascend this list as his career progresses.
Deandre Ayton – Phoenix Suns
Ayton was selected first overall out of Arizona by the Suns in the 2018 NBA Draft. He was a member of the 2018-19 All-Rookie Team when he averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Ayton increased his production in 38 games played the following season when he averaged 18.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
Ayton hit over 60 percent of his shots from the floor over the next two seasons while consistently grabbing over 10 rebounds per game. In 39 games this season, Ayton is averaging 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. At only 24 years of age, Ayton is ascending and could be a top-five center in the NBA in the near future.
So those are our top 8 picks for best basketball players who are 6 foot 11 inches tall. Who’s your favorite 6′ 11″ NBA player?
Note: all statistics come from Basketball Reference