Did you know that in the entire the history of the WNBA only one player has been at least seven feet tall? Today we’re going reveal the tallest WNBA player in history, as well as the tallest women on WNBA teams today.
We’ll also explore all aspects of how height impacts the game we love. Presumably being closer to the basket on offense and a bigger wall on defense should make for a more impactful player, right?
Plus, we’ll break down how tall the average player is (would you make the cut?!), and how short the shortest player is. And you’ll find out each team’s height distribution, as well as whether height has any impact on who wins the league’s MVP Award. We’re going to have a ball!
The tallest WNBA player in history is Małgorzata Dydek at 7 foot 2 inches. The Poland native played Center for three different WNBA teams over her basketball career.
Malgorzata was drafted first in the 1998 WNBA draft by the Utah Starzz (the franchise was subsequently transferred to San Antonio). Then, she was traded to the Connecticut Sun during the 2005 WNBA draft. Later, she signed with the Los Angeles Sparks, following time away from basketball due to a pregnancy.
In 2019, she was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. And is the all-time leader in blocks (877) in 323 games; was the leader in season total blocks nine times; and had the most defensive rebounds (214) in 2001. It turns out height really does help on the defensive end of the court.
At 6 feet 9 inches Brittney Griner is the tallest WNBA player right now, having played in the WNBA 2020 season. As a member of the Phoenix Mercury, she won the 2014 WNBA Championship. She’s also won WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award twice (2015, 2014). And she was a member of Team USA’s 2016 gold medal team during 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Plus, she’s a two-time gold medalist with Team USA at FIBA Women’s Basketball World Championships (2018, 2014), as well as the MVP of the gold medal game in 2018. Plus, she can dunk!
Next, there’s Bernadett Hatar at 6 feet 10 inches, a Hungarian basketball player, who signed a training camp contract with the Indiana Fever. She played five seasons in the EuroLeague A Division for Sopron Basket, and in the most recent season, she averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds a game while shooting 64.8 percent from the field. But then the Fever suspended her for the 2020 season due to an unspecified injury, so she didn’t play.
And finally, Han Xu is 6 feet 9 inches. She’s the first Chinese woman to play in the WNBA for 22 years, and was 14th overall draft pick selected by the New York Liberty in 2019. She scored a career-high 12 points on August 30 against the Connecticut Sun that year. But she opted out of the WNBA’s 2020 season in order to play overseas.
The Atlanta Dream and the Chicago Sky have the most players among the tallest players in the league, with each team having two. Here’s the breakdown of the top tallest players in the WNBA today.
The average WNBA player is 5 feet 9 inches tall, based on the 2020 WNBA teams. That’s taking into account 73 bigs (centers, forwards, forward-guards) and 69 guards (including guard-forwards). There are a few players who height isn’t published, so those players are excluded.
It’s pretty clear, as you’d expect, that Guards tend to be on the shorter end in the league. While Centers and Forwards tower tall.
The shortest WNBA player in 2020 is all the players who are 5 feet 5 inches tall, which include: guard Crystal Dangerfield of the Minnesota Lynx and guard Leilani Mitchell of the Washington Mystics.
Most teams have a fairly similar distribution of height. Because the averages and medians are so similar, it doesn’t appear that a team’s height makes it more likely to be successful. Though, it is clear to play in the WNBA a certain height – ideally 5 feet 6 inches or taller – is beneficial.
Interestingly, the Minnesota Lynx have one player in both the top two tallest players and top two shortest players.
The Atlanta Dream 2020 team averages 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet 2 inches.
The Chicago Sky 2020 team averages 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
The Connecticut Sun team averages 6 feet 1 inch tall. Their median height is 6 feet 3 inches tall.
The Dallas Wings averages 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
The Indiana Fever averages 6 feet 1 inches tall. Their median height is 6 feet 1 inches.
The LA Sparks average 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet tall.
The Las Vegas Aces average 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet tall.
The Minnesota Lynx average 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet 1 inch tall.
The New York Liberty average 6 feet 1 inch tall. Their median height is 6 feet 1 inch tall.
The Phoenix Mercury average 6 feet 1 inch tall. Their median height is 6 feet tall.
The Seattle Storm average 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
The Washington Mystics average 6 feet tall. Their median height is 6 feet tall.
Causation and correlation can’t really be broken apart here, and the sample size is small. But what’s clear is that the MVP award winners have an average height of 6 feet 4 inches, which is taller than the league average of 5 feet 9 inches. The award tends to go to women playing the forward and center position, rather than guards. Which helps explain the height difference.
Certainly height doesn’t hurt, and by all accounts visible today, it helps. So go forth and eat your Wheaties! Up next, learn more about the WNBA Rookie of the Year.
Written by Megan Mitzel, youth basketball coach, and Founder of Queen Ballers Club.
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