There is nothing more exciting than watching an NBA player fly through the air with his head over the rim. Professional basketball players do things on a nightly basis to show fans that they have superhuman abilities.
From a young age, these players knew that they have been given talent that is not common. Prior to the hours of training, weight room work, and game preparation, they were given abilities from a higher up and destined to be great.
Here, we will take a look at the players who have shown the highest vertical in NBA history. This could have been in game, in the combine, or in the Slam Dunk contest.
We will begin the list by recognizing the many players tied for 10th with a vertical leap of 44 inches. Those players are Andrew Wiggins, LeBron James, Harold Miner, Dee Brown, David Thompson, and Deshawn Stevenson.
9. Muggsy Bogues- 44.3″
You might not expect to see Bogues on this list given his height at 5’3. His crazy bounce and athleticism is the reasn he played 14 years in the league. Bogues averaged 10 or more assists twice in his career. He is on record saying that he can dunk with ease, despite never showing it off in an NBA game.
8. Shannon Brown- 44.5″
Brown is best known for his vertical leap. He did not see much success in the NBA as he was up and down from the G-League on many occasions. Brown was drafted 25th overall in 2006 after showing off his athletic ability at the combine. This includes a 44.5″ vertical that he showed off in games whenever an opportunity presented itself.
7. James White- 46″
White was selected with the first pick of the second round during the 2006 NBA Draft. He was viewed coming in as a player that could score the ball. This was not the case. If White was not dunking the ball, he did not serve much of a purpose. He played just 67 games in the NBA but that is enough to land him on this list with a crazy 46″ vertical. White is currently playing pro ball overseas in Italy.
6. Spud Webb- 46″
Webb had a successful NBA career. He averaged double-digit points five times but he is best known for his leaping ability. Webb is one of the most entertaining dunkers of all time because he stands at just 5’7. He won the 1986 dunk contest by throwing down some insane 360 and alley-oop finishes. He lands on this list with a 46″ vertical.
5. Jason Richardson- 46″
Everyone knows the video of what Vince Carter did in the 2000 dunk contest. What gets swept under the rug is what Richardson did during his time in the slam dunk contest. He won the event back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003.
Richardson was the fifth player selected in the 2001 NBA Draft. He came in and was an effective scorer right away. This is because he was one of the best athletes in the league. Richardson would put on a show either dunking over players or in the open floor with his 46″ leaping ability.
4. Zach LaVine- 46″
LaVine has quickly turned into one of the top young players in the league. He averaged 25.5 points in 60 games during the 2019-2020 season. What LaVine is really known for is his insane dunking talents.
This was on full display during the 2015 and 2016 dunk contests. LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on the best contest of all time in 2016. He stole the show by executing both between the legs and behind the back dunks from the free throw line.
LaVine has recently had his sights set on the three-point contest. He has proven time and time again that he is much more than just a dunker. With that being said, he has already put his name among the best dunkers ever at just 25-years old.
3. Michael Jordan- 46″
It is only right that the greatest player of all time lands on this list. Jordan entered the league and was immediately one of the top athletes in the NBA. On the floor, Jordan was able to leap to great heights and adjust his body in midair to gain an advantage.
Jordan won the dunk contest in 1987 and 1988. He is best known for his iconic dunk from the free throw line. After the contest, Jordan was pictured sitting on the rim with the trophy. If you earn a nickname like Air Jordan, you must be able to fly. Jordan could certainly do that with a 46″ vertical.
This just goes to show that Jordan was truly good at everything. He is known as the best player, best finisher, mentally toughest, and now one of the greatest leapers of all time.
2. Darrell Griffith- 48″
Griffith averaged 20 or more points four times in his first five seasons. This was before injuries began piling up for the shooting guard. Griffith was a compliment player next to John Stockton and Karl Malone. On the floor, he was best known for his incredible dunks.
Known as “Dr. Dunkenstein,” Griffith has the ability to leap from anywhere on the floor and get the better of almost any defender in front of him. He spent 11 years with the Utah Jazz and missed one season due to a foot injury. Many may not know this name but tape of his 48″ vertical will change that narrative. Donovan Mitchell certainly knows the legendary dunker and he gave a shout out by wearing his jersey during the 2018 dunk contest.
1. Wilt Chamberlain- 48″
Simply put, Chamberlain as an athlete did not make any sense. He stood at 7’1, had a 48″ vertical leap, ran a 100-yard dash in 10.9 seconds, threw a shot put 56 feet, and won the high jump three years in a row in the Big Eight conference. Again, he did this all at 7’1.
Chamberlain put up some of the most incredible numbers in NBA history. He is the only player to score 100 points in a game. During the 1961-1962 season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds. For his career, Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points and 22.5 rebounds. He was an unstoppable force given his size and athleticism.
Chamberlain is tied for the highest vertical leap in NBA history and will be remembered as one of the top athletes of all time.