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5’8 NBA players: Can you play basketball if you’re 5 foot 8?

5’8 NBA players: Can you play basketball if you’re 5 foot 8?

If you thought that being a 5’8 basketball player was impossible, think again. Although basketball is definitely a tall athlete’s sport, there are still some notable 5’8 NBA players who have enjoyed great success during their careers.

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List of 5’8 NBA players

A 5 foot 8 basketball player catching the ball

Here is a list of 5’8 NBA players who’ve found basketball success despite being short:

Yuta Tabuse

Yuta Tabuse was the first Japanese basketball player to play in the NBA, which is made all the more impressive by the fact that he is only 5 foot 8.

The skillful point guard played for the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns, as well as teams in his home country of Japan.

Willie Somerset

Willie Somerset is known as one of the shortest basketball players due to his 5 foot 8 stature, which was considered very short for a basketball player decades before the emergence of the modern game.

During his career, Somerset played for the Houston Mavericks and the Brooklyn Nets and was a prolific performer on the court, so much so that he was selected as an all-star.

Charlie Criss

Charlie Criss is yet another 5’8 basketball player who didn’t let his stature determine his NBA success. 

The athletic point guard played for the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Can you really be a 5’8 basketball player?

A 5'8 basketball player practicing his skills

The evidence is there; you can be a 5’8 basketball player, but the task would be much easier if you were a foot taller.

Even being a few inches taller would be a plus, considering that there are some good active NBA players who are under 6 feet.

Nevertheless, with enough skill, it’s likely that a 5 foot 8 athlete can be a basketball player.

But the reality is that most 5 foot 8 people simply don’t consider basketball as an option, as they will naturally feel out of place among basketball’s increasing number of big men.

The verdict: Do 5’8 basketball players stand a chance?

A 5'8 NBA player holding a basketball

Honestly? It’s unlikely that a 5’8 basketball player will make the NBA. But throughout NBA history, there have been multiple success stories of shorter players making the cut, and some of these players were under 5 foot 8.

So, while our list of 5’8 NBA players is likely to remain small, there is still a slim chance that we might see a couple of top-level 5’8 basketball players in the future. But only time will tell.

One thing’s for sure, though; if someone is talented enough, they can still be a great basketball player—even if they don’t quite make the NBA.


  1. Yuta Tabuse Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Draft Status and more. (n.d.).
  2. Mahoney, R. (2010, December 10). What Makes an N.B.A. All-Star? Off The Dribble.
  3. Wikipedia contributors. (2023, January 18). Charlie Criss. Wikipedia.