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The best 5’9 NBA players: No, 5 foot 9 isn’t too short for basketball

The best 5’9 NBA players: No, 5 foot 9 isn’t too short for basketball

There aren’t many 5’9 NBA players, which isn’t all that surprising considering that a 5 foot 9 basketball player is a whopping 9 inches shorter than the average NBA player.

In fact, there are way more 7-footers in the NBA than athletes who are under 6 feet. Considering that it’s extremely rare to be 7 feet tall, this just shows how crucial height is in the NBA.

Yet, there are still some notable 5 9 basketball players who’ve found major success in the National Basketball Association despite their relative lack of stature.

Related Basketball Articles:

List of all the 5’9 NBA players

Some 5 9 basketball players on the court

Here is a list of all the best 5’9 NBA players:

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas is a highly accomplished 5’9 basketball player. He’s twice featured as an NBA all-star and has played for teams like the Phoenix Suns, the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Isaiah Thomas is an incredibly skillful player and is a great athlete for youngsters and prospects to look up to if they’re not particularly tall themselves (tall for a basketball player, that is).

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson is easily one of the best 5 9 NBA players of all time. 

Throughout his impressive career, the athletic and skillful Robinson played for New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls, the Denver Nuggets, and the Delaware 87ers. What a résumé! 

Kay Felder

Kay Felder is a 5’9 point guard who has played for teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Chicago Bulls, and the Detroit Pistons, as well as a number of Chinese basketball teams.

Kay Felder’s skills are obvious for any basketball fan to see, and his abilities are made all the more impressive by the fact that he’s much shorter than his opponents.

Calvin Murphy

Calvin Murphy may have only been 5 foot 9, but that didn’t stop him from making a big impact on the court.

He was well-known for his speed and defensive skills, and he played for the Houston Rockets (then known as the San Diego Rockets) in the NBA, having a prolific career that spanned more than a decade. 

Charlie Hoefer

Not everyone has heard of Charlie Hoefer, and that’s because he played basketball back in the 40s, when the NBA was basically the Basketball Association of America.

Like the other 5’9 basketball players, Hoefer was a point guard and a good one at that. He played for the Toronto Huskies as well as the Boston Celtics during his basketball career.

Ralph O’Brien

Casual fans of the sport may not know who Ralph O’Brien is. So let me give you a brief background.

With a background at Butler university, O’Brien played for the Indianapolis Olympians and the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA, and he is known as one of the shortest professional basketball players.

Can you be a basketball player if you’re 5 foot 9?

A 5 9 NBA player holding a basketball

It’s going to be harder to make the NBA at the height of 5 foot 9 considering that many of the top players are an entire foot taller.

Yet, as the above examples have shown, with enough speed, power, playmaking ability, and determination, you can be a 5 foot 9 basketball player.

Just realize that you might have a harder time getting noticed. This is why it’s important to work on the things that you can control.

Sure, you’ll never be as tall as the big guys, but you can build your muscles up so that they can’t bully you around on the court as easily.

When you look at the best 5’9 NBA players—yes, they’re skillful—but they have strong, muscular physiques, which gives them more speed and explosive power.

Wrapping things up

A 5'9 basketball player holding the ball

While there aren’t a whole lot of 5’9 basketball players, it’s still possible to be 5’9 in the NBA if you have enough talent and determination.

Of course, at the rather average height of 5 foot 9, other sports are probably a better option, but I certainly wouldn’t discourage someone away from basketball if they have an obvious ability.


  1. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2023b, January 16). Isiah Thomas | Biography & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. DraftExpress – Kay Felder DraftExpress Profile: Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook. (n.d.). DraftExpress.