If you’re going to be a basketball player, you better eat your full meals and get an 8-hour sleep, ‘cause you’re going to need as much help as you can get to gain an inch or two, as height is obviously a huge issue when it comes to balling.
Some players actually grow because of basketball, entering this sport at a very tender age and developing their body as their life goes on, improving not only their skills but also their chances to actually succeed in the Association.
Of course, other guys, like Muggsy Bogues or Isaiah Thomas never managed to grow, but that didn’t stop them from achieving greatness and thriving in the best competition in basketball, but they’re just the exception to that rule. Today, we’ll tell you about those guys that were a bit luckier and had crazy growth spurts before becoming NBA athletes.
We all know how talented the New Orleans big guy is, having a great ability to pull the ball on the floor despite his height, and that’s because he was actually a guard before growing into that 6’11 dominant forward center we all love nowadays.
In fact, he was actually recruited out of a small high school program as a three point specialist, something that hasn’t translated to an NBA level, but that will certainly do after a couple of more seasons.
CJ McCollum definitely isn’t the tallest guy you’ll find on an NBA court, listed as a 6’4 combo guard, although he’s – without any kind of doubt – one of the most entertaining players to watch in modern NBA with his offensive versatility and great skillset.
Still, he wouldn’t even be in the league if it wasn’t for that significant growth spurt he went through after his freshman year in high school, where he was as tiny as it gets, listed at 5’2, looking like a hobbit among humans.
Before becoming the go-to-guy for the Spurs and one of the greatest big guys in the history of the league, David Robinson wasn’t as nearly as tall as those 7’1 we watched throughout his entire career, being listed at just 5’9 during his junior season at high school.
Some vegetables later, the Admiral became an intimidating and dominant presence, and perhaps the best center in the history of the Spurs if it wasn’t for the guy that stepped up after his retirement, Tim Duncan.
One of the most impressive things about Dennis Rodman is the fact that he actually spent most of his career playing center despite being just 6’8, way shorter than most of his rivals but with an incredible leaping ability and determination to get every single board against anybody.
And before becoming one of the league’s best defenders through history, Rodman was actually just 5’6 and considering his lack of offensive skills, he wouldn’t even make it if it wasn’t for the 12 inches he grew after high school before entering the NBA.
Another standout defender and a member of that historic Chicago Bulls squad, Scottie Pippen, also makes our crazy growth spurt list thanks to those 7 inches he grew after high school, going from 6’1 to 6’8 to increase his draft stock.
Still, nobody expected Pippen to be that dominant defender out of the gate, but he completely overplayed every guy he had to guard, becoming the best Small Forward in the history of the league until LeBron’s arrival.
Can you believe that Dwight Howard was actually a point guard in the early going? In fact, he was actually a very decent shooter from distance before becoming one of the most horrid free throw shooters in NBA history.
So, the soft minded Center and former elite rebounder and a defender was actually 5’7 during high school, growing over a foot in one year to finally get as tall as 6’11 before entering the Association as the so called second coming of Shaq.
As we mentioned before, Timothy entered the league as San Antonio’s response to the future retirement of an aging David Robinson just to become one of the best big guy in the history of competitive basketball, and a guy that’s definitely been missed by the Spurs since the very same day he decided to call it a career.
And before playing basketball, when he was still into swimming, the forward/center actually grew 8 inches to go from 6’3 to 6’11, being a late bloomer at the age of 17 before being a standout athlete out of Wake Forest.
Russell Westbrook’s rise from unnoticed nobody to a rising NBA star is one of the most amazing I’ve ever come across. Westbrook is a true late bloomer who, despite having over-sized hands and size 14 feet, entered his freshman year in high school at just 5’8″ and 140 pounds. He didn’t even crack his high school’s starting five until his junior season. It wasn’t until a growth spurt that saw Westbrook grow from 5’10” to 6’3″ before his senior year that enabled him to become a star.
An injury to Darren Collison opened up a starting spot for him as Westbrook was very quiet during his first college season. Westbrook, who has been a terrific NBA defender, won the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year award in his final season at UCLA.