Whenever there’s any discussion of the slam dunk and jumping is involved, the topic of who owns the highest vertical jump in NBA history often comes up.
Because jump measurement wasn’t always available having the exact figures on who has the highest ever in history will always be a question.
Some great examples of exceptional NBA leapers that we’ll never be able to measure include:
- Wilt Chamberlain who was an accomplished high jumper even when he was in high school.
- There’s also David Thompson who thinks his vertical was 44”, but can’t be accurate because they didn’t measure it officially back them.
- Of course there’s Dr. J, Julius Erving.
- Then there’s Dr. Dunkenstein, Darrell Griffith who according to some unverified sources went up 48”.
- Also included in this list is the first “small” NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Spud Webb, who seemed like he could jump over himself when you look at the photo stills of his dunks them.
Today however, thanks to more comprehensive testing we have a better idea of what the actual jump test scores and results are.
Here are the best leapers in the NBA past and present. At least those we can find official records of and those we’ve always wondered about.
NBA Players with the Highest Vertical Leap
Michael Jordan – 46 inches
No talk of vertical jump will ever be complete without mentioning Michael Jordan’s name. His Jump Man logo still personifies his “Air Jordan” monicker.
There are tons of figures being thrown around as far as how high Jordan’s vertical leap is, ranging anywhere from just under 40” to as high as 48”.
After some serious digging, we came up with documentation from the University of North Carolina back when Jordan was still in college. As part of a 1983 advanced master motion analysis class project, they measured Michael Jordan’s vertical jump using a variety of techniques with the help of some devices.
The results showed his running vertical, which is the same as the NBA’s max vertical today at 45.76 inches. While his standing vertical was 35.93 inches.
With the basketball, his vertical when doing a 1 hand dunk was 41.7”, and when using 2 hands was 40.93”,
Lebron James – reportedly over 40 inches
James is built more like an NFL tight end than a basketball player, but his muscle has allowed him to throw down powerful dunks and jump over his opponents.
Like Jordan, there’s a lot of conflicting information about his vertical jumping ability with some mentioning figures as high as 44” while others saying that it’s as low as 37” based on measuring him relative to the rim during flight in game photos.
We’re not totally sure but we believe that his vertical is at least 40 inches.
Either way he’s used it well including winning some slam dunk contests before entering the NBA.
Zach LaVine – 46 inches
The 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, Zach LaVine owns a maximum vertical of 46 inches.
LaVine’s athleticism during the NBA draft combine, where he finished in the top 10 of all 5 assessment tests (4 of which he was inside the top 5), definitely improved his draft stock.
He them proved himself again on the court with spectacular plays and taking home the Slam Dunk crown in the All-Star Weekend competition.
Just to show you how much of a difference measurements can get, LaVine’s stats on the NBA combine showed he jumped 41.5” with a running start and 33.5” from standstill.
However, in the Lakers’ pre-draft workout one month laster, LaVine jumped 46 inches.
Andrew Wiggins – 44 inches
While Andrew Wiggins didn’t attend the NBA draft combine, social media was kind enough to give us a glimpse of his vertical. An image of Wiggins preparing for the NBA draft showed him doing a 44 inch vertical leap during training.
We’ve seen how well that 44” has done for him in the NBA, as he’s been able to make spectacular dunks.
Derrick Rose – 40 inches
If you’ve ever seen Derrick Rose play, the two things that you’ll quickly notice is his speed and his explosive jumping ability.
Draft combine records show his vertical at the 40 inch mark giving him that advantage over other guards when he drives against him.
In this playoffs, he continues to show good form with no ill effects from the recent run of injuries. Rose also mentioned previously that he was able to increase his vertical after injury.
Nate Robinson – 43.5 inches
Among the smallest players to play in the league, Nate Robinson has been a constant contributor in whatever team he’s joined.
Nate Robinson’s 43.5 inch vertical has been shown in various occasions where highlight reels have him following up missed shots with dunks or dunking over much bigger players.
Robinson also owns 3 trophies from the Slam Dunk Competition, something only he has done so far.
Vince Carter -43 inches
A one time winner of the Slam Dunk trophy himself, Vince Carter was one of the dunkers that took up the slack after Michael Jordan retired.
Carter isn’t only a great leaper and dunker but a prolific scorer, who ranked in the top of scoring lists during the peak of his career.
Basketball is in his family’s blood as his cousin Tracy McGrady also was a scoring and dunking machine with a 40 inch vertical.
Blake Griffin – 35.5 inches
One of the most interesting players in this list of high jumpers is Blake Griffin. Unlike most of the others who are guards or wing players, Griffin in a big man who weighs over 250 lbs.
His thunderous slam dunks over opponents often make us wonder how high he really jumps.
Well based on the draft workouts, his no step vertical is 32 inches while his running vertical jump is 35.5 inches.
For the most part we see Griffin taking one or two steps and rising up making him able to jump up high quickly without the benefit of having to get a running start.
John Wall – 39 inches
A big, strong and athletic point guard, John Wall showed everyone his jumping ability back when he played at Kentucky. The former no. 1 draft pick still gives us some highlights and dunks showcasing his 39” jumping height.
In the 2014 Slam Dunk Contest, Wall was judged as the dunker of the night.
At 6’4” he is right around the average for most of the high jumping players we’ve seen where the sweet spot seems to be at around the 6’4 to 6’6” range.
Russell Westbrook – 36.5 inches
Among the smaller guys if you can call him that, Russell Westbrook uses his 36.5” jump to go over defenders and score.
His jumping also helps him become one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA. In the 2015 season, he averaged 7.3 rebounds per game which is better than a number of big men.
Gerald Green 39 inches
Rounding out our list of high jumpers in the NBA is Gerald Green. Well known for his athletic ability, he skipped college and went straight to the NBA.
Green has participated in the NBA dunk contest and continues to be among the players who will give the crowd an acrobatic dunk when given the opportunity.