Updated: May 26, 2021
Oh yes the age old question, every son asks their parents, the minute they learn they can make millions playing basketball for a living. In this article I will be giving you a complete breakdown on what you will need to do in order to make the NBA .
Note: This article I will be breaking down the certain skill sets you will need at each height position in order to make it to the NBA it is important to say that while it is helpful to have all of these skills I am about to mention shorter players are most likely going to have to have much more of these skill sets than their taller counter parts.
How To Make The NBA Under 6 Feet
In order to make the NBA under 6 feet in height you have to be very good or exceptional at all your basketball related skills like shooting, dribbling, and passing. You must also be a very exceptional athlete and have very good strength,speed, and most of the time vertical.
A very important thing to note is at this height you will also have to have a veracious mindset and maintain and strong basketball IQ. There really is no room for error at this height range you really need to not only be a complete basketball player but exceptional in all areas of the game.
Considering this height is near the average for a man in the United States there is going to be a lot more competition, and people competing for your spot. But it is not impossible we have seen it done before, it can be done but these are the things you must do in order to make it in the NBA under this height range.
1. Your Mentality And Mind
You got to realize at this height position your going to be one of the smallest guys on the floor at all times. Teams are going to try to post you up, bully you, and push you around. Guys at this height need to be fierce competitors and absolute animals on the court. Guys like Allen Iverson, J.J Barea, and Avery Johnson, are all shorter players that were known for there high motors and aggressive play. Frankly at this height you have to have that chip on your shoulder and attitude at all times.Just because you are shorter doesn't mean you cant impact the game like a 6'6 guy out there.
Another thing that goes into your mentality is your basketball IQ. If you really want to make it to the NBA under 6 feet your going to have to be a student of the game.
At this height the only position you will be able to play in the NBA is point guard. As a point guard your going to have to have to be able to read defenses and coverages with pinpoint accuracy. Studying Film and learning the ins in outs of your offense, and your opponents defense will give you the advantage over other players trying to make the league who might be more talented or naturally have better basketball genetics.
Another simple way to improve your IQ is to just to play more basketball, as cliche as it sounds hard work can overcome talent if talent does't work hard and being under 6 feet trying to make the NBA you will need all the experience and practice you can get.
2. Offensively Versatile
What I mean By Offensively versatile is that you have to be a player that can score at all positions on the floor in a myriad of different ways. For example a guy like Isiah Thomas is a player who can shoot a deep three, pull up in the mid range, and drive to the basket at will. Being shorter in basketball while it does come with its many disadvantages, offensively your not as limited and some might think out there.
There are some advantages to it that you will need to capitalize on in order to make it to the NBA. One of them being is your low center of gravity, and being lower to the ground. Which makes ball handling easier and it allows you to attack your defenders hips easier which in turn makes more effortless blow by opportunities. For More information on how to blow by your defender https://www.detailedhooper.com/post/how-to-blow-by-your-defender-in-basketball
Other offensive tips
-Floaters as a player under 6 feet when driving to them rim a lot your going to need to have this in your offensive repertoire. Really focus in practice doing these in game like situations and shooting them like your on the run or a tall defender is in front of you.
-Shooting Off The Dribble, as a shorter guard shooting off the dribble shooting is going to be a must for you. Since most likely your going to be having the ball in your hands if you want to be a high level scorer being able to pull up on a dime is a must. For most off the dribble shooting I recommend a two motion jump shot if you do not know what that is check out this article https://www.detailedhooper.com/post/how-to-shoot-a-two-motion-shot-for-basketball
-Learning To Finish Awkwardly, what I mean by finishing awkwardly is being able to take and make layups in less than ideal situations. For example lets say you blow by your defender going to the rim and your about to take a layup or floater, in a ideal situation it would be nice too take two steps and try to draw a foul or finish around him. But being so much shorter being able to quickly release your layup or even being able to take that layup across your body or over your head might be required in some situations.
-Passing And Driving, remember like i said one of your super powers as a shorter player is your low center of gravity and being able to attack your opponents hip, use that super power to get your teammates involved and show NBA scouts that you are capable of impacting multiple areas of the game. Obviously your gonna need to be an exceptional dribbler at this height to make the NBA, not only standing dribbling but dribbling in traffic and through defenders as well.
-Attacking Multiple Pick And Roll Coverages, as a shorter guard you can be a nightmare in a pick and roll situation especially in the NBA. Most NBA teams when guarding a pick and roll either switch, hard hedge, or use a drop coverage to defend the pick and roll. A drop coverage is basically when the defender guarding the ball handler goes over and the center drops down guarding the paint. As a shorter guard a defender is going to drop lower so he dosnt get blown by. Being able to hit a pull up off a screen is a very valuable skill and can disrupt a hole defensive system. Even on a switch or hedge small guards are a nightmare because it requires centers to step out on you. Mastering your driving ability, basketball IQ, and pick and roll skill will give you a great chance to make the NBA even under 6 foot because of how highly used and valuable a pick and roll is in today's NBA.
Now at this height in order to make it into the NBA your going to need to be a very good athlete. Think about guys like Allen Iverson, Spud Webb, or Nate robinson. One of the few things almost all these shorter players have in common is acceleration speed, and strength. As a shorter player under 6 feet your going to need to be extremely explosive as a ball handler in order to make the NBA.
Another very important factor is strength. A reason a player like Nate Robinson only standing 5'9 could be a solid defender in the NBA was his strength. Having a low center of gravity and strength makes guarding taller point guards possible because even if they do try to post you up you have the ability to push them away from the basket. Strength can be the great equalizer to height, and strength is something almost everyone can work on.
Playing defense in basketball under 6 feet and trying to make the NBA can seem like a daunting task, but there are things you can show an NBA scout to prove that you can play defense on that level.
Pressuring up- One of the easiest way to counter balance height is pressuring up and keeping them away from the basket. That shows an NBA scout that you have the ability to put the advantage back in your hands even if you are giving up a few inches in height.
High Motor- this might seem obvious something every coach talks from the time you were a kid. But having a high motor is especially true if you want to make the NBA under 6 feet. Almost everyone who described Allen Iverson game said that he was non stop, coming at you the whole game, all the time, and that's something not everyone has and having that can make scouts and coaches look at you as someone who could make the NBA even if your under 6 feet.
Getting Over And Through Screens-Like I said in the previous section, the NBA is very screen orientated, and being a shorter guard it is going to be vital for you to be able to get through screens. Since a switch on a big will likely lead to a score. As a shorter guard it will be easier for you to get around screens as your naturally smaller. Pressuring up and initiating contact also helps get through screens as this allows you to slow down the ball handler, and make it harder for him to get a good angle on the screen. Want more information on how to guard a taller player.
Conclusion- In order to make the NBA as a player under 6 feet, you have to be very good if not exceptional at all facets of the game. From Dribbling, Shooting, Passing, and Defense. Not to mention having a very strong understanding of the game and a high basketball IQ. But I want you as the reader to see even if you are shorter than 6 feet that there are certain advantages to being that size and you can use that to your advantage in many instances. We've seen players do it before and you can too.
Making The NBA At 6'1 -6'4
Now at this height like being under 6 foot you are going to need to be a good overall player. But the main difference is at this height if you want to make the NBA, you can get away with certain limitations and drawbacks if you are exceptionally good or great at one particular skill set.
For example a player like Russel Westbrook, only standing 6"3 might not be the best shooter in the world but since he is a world class athlete he can get away with this flaw in his game. So if your a player around this height range and have certain flaws in your game it is not the end of the world. In fact it might even serve your game to focus on your strengths. For example a guy like Steph Curry shouldn't focus on his body and athleticism as much as Russel Westbrook since he is already a great shooter. In order to make it to the NBA you also have to be smart about where your practice energy goes. Think about it would it really make sense for a guy like Steph Curry too become a better athlete if his shooting percentages drop. The answer is no it wouldn't.
At this height range your still in a very competitive spot with a near virtually impossible task. To make the NBA at this height you need to have something that separates you from the crowd, whether that is your ball handling, basketball IQ, Defense, Shooting, whatever it is having that thing that separates you from all the other players is a sure fire way to get NBA scouts attention and propel you into the NBA ranks.
Ball Handling And Play making
Like I said you can get away with certain things at this height that you couldn't have if you were below 6 feet. But Ball handling and play making ability is not one of those if you want to make the NBA some day.
You have to realize that at this height your most likely going to have to play either the 1 or the 2 guard, And at these positions especially in the NBA your going to need some play making ability and ball handling skills. Even a guy like Patrick Beverley who is mainly known for his defense still has some level of play making ability because at this height your most likely going to have be able to create your own shot or a shot for your teammates.
Making The NBA From Heights 6'5 to 6'8
As we start to get taller here some of the requirements change at this height level. Now its important to note that its important to have the skills I have mentioned so far but not necessarily a requirement. For example, as a player in this height range you can make it to the NBA only being good in 1 or 2 areas. Or even being exceptional at one particular area of the game.
Shooting- The reason I bring up shooting especially in this height range is because more times than not your going to be a wing player 2 guard or small forward. And the way offenses are developing now, going with more high ball screens and spread out floors, being able to shoot consistently from three especially at a clip near 40% can be almost a sure fire way for you to make the NBA at this height range.
Look at a player like Kyle Korver, a player who cannot dribble well, not a great defender, and certainly not a great athlete, despite this he has had an incredibly successful career of just his ability to shoot.
Defense- At this position you are at a very unique spot, because it todays position-less basketball you will not only be having to guard other great wings like Lebron, or Kevin Durrant, you will also be able to have to switch on smaller players like Damian Lillard, or Steph Curry. Not to mention many times you will be required to switch out on many of the best centers of the NBA like Joel Embid, or Nikola Jokic. Showing your ability to switch out and guard multiple positions is a skill that NBA teams are willing to pay a lot of money for and give you that spot on the NBA roster you always dreamed off.
Note: Remember basketball is a team game and NBA scouts are not always looking for the next ball dominant superstar. Being a player who can fill their role efficiently and effectively is something you might need to do in order to make the NBA and play among the best in the world and be constantly on a NBA Roster.
Making The NBA From Heights 6'9 To 7" +
Now I know you might be thinking that this seems like a big height range for players to have similar skill sets requirements and still make it. But in recent years the NBA has been slowly going away from the back to the back center and being a slow post big might not be able to cut it in todays NBA.
Mobility- As I said more and more teams are running a very perimeter orientated style of play with lots of high ball screens and 5 out types of sets. This means that there is a lot more emphasis on bigger players ability to move especially in ball screen scenarios. In order to show that you can play on this level you need to showcase your ability to switch out on guards and guard them farther out from the basket, and being in shape enough to run down the court and set ball screens for your guards and catch lobs and put backs for your team.
A reason we see a guy like John collins who is only listed at 6"9 able to thrive in todays NBA is because of his mobility. Where a guy like Taco Fall struggles to get playing time because he lacks mobility even though he stands almost a full 8 inches taller than John Collins.
Being a mobile big that can switch on to guards and contain ball screens is a skill set that will always give you the opportunity to make a huge impact on your team in the NBA.
General Tips For All Players
Now mindset applies to a lot of things but this is one those things that will make or break your chances of making it in the NBA. Lets face it there are millions of kids around the world who want the exact same position you do, and while some get weeded out based on there abilities a lot getting weeded out based on there mindset and attitudes.
So many players neglect one of there most powerful tools that they have their mind. Think about a player like Chris Paul, yes a very talented player but I would argue what makes him so great is his mind. The way he approaches the game and wants to get better each and every day, and the way he leads his team and makes everyone around him better. Obviously having the skills is necessary in order to make the NBA are no doubt important but frankly their are a lot of guys at higher college levels who have the pure talent to make the NBA but they dont. Your mindset is the glue that puts all your basketball skills together.
Do you have the ability to focus on your school work and your sports? Do you have the mindset necessary to work hard even when all things seem to be going wrong? Are you the type of player to help your teammates when they are down? Do you like to learn and expand your game, or do you let your pride get in the way. These are all things that can separate you from the next guy in order to make the NBA.
2. Love Of The Game
With how much more competitive basketball has gotten in the fast few decades with more and more foreign players in the NBA loving the game is more important than ever. None of the tips above matter if you do not having a burning passion and desire for this game. In order to practice, want to improve, and make all the necessary sacrifices in order to make the NBA you going to need to have a burning desire and love to play. Otherwise if you lack love for it then the road might be too tough to even make the NBA.
3. Being In Shape
This is a pretty obvious one but in order to make it in the NBA you have to show scouts that you are in tremendous shape. Playing 82 games a year, and also having practices, preseason, and even postseason, you have to be in phenomenal shape just to be on the court for an NBA team. Being in shape also goes farther than just on the court play its also includes, eating healthy, getting quality sleep, and allowing his body to recover after strenuous work, are all important factors to being a healthy in shape player who can make it to the NBA.
Making the NBA is one of the hardest things in sports, but it is possible, remember that you can only control the things you can control. And you should be the only player that your comparing yourself too. Having a love for the game, good work ethic, and focusing on the skills required to make the jump to that level does not guarantee you will be in the NBA some day, but it does give you the best shot.
Let me Know what you think, Did I leave anything out I should of included? Comment Below and check out some other helpful how tos below to improve your basketball skills and make the NBA
Thanks for reading and keep hooping my friends.