What Are the Odds of Becoming an NBA Player

What Are the Odds of Becoming an NBA Player

Millions of people around the world play basketball, yet very few play it on a professional level and even fewer make it to the best professional basketball league on the planet, the NBA. Getting to the NBA is extremely difficult even for talented players and those who wish to make it to the top must be prepared to face the fact that they may never fulfill their dream. Still, becoming an NBA pro is not impossible, especially for those who meet just a few simple requirements.

Obviously, they need to be excellent players with adept skills and impeccable work ethics combined with some fantastic genetics. So, how hard could it actually be to make it to the NBA? The team at SuperCasinoSites decided to delve into the endless sea of sports stats and the latest research to calculate the odds of becoming an NBA player.

Height of NBA Players

Everyone knows that getting to the NBA is hard and having talent is just not enough – you have to be extraordinarily good and have a comparative advantage at one or more specific stats such as scoring at least 20 points per game. Physical strength, speed, agility, and size are also key elements that determine whether you will ever become a high-level player. Huge factors are, of course, height and weight and interestingly, the average height of NBA players has fluctuated a lot over the past few decades.

In 1987, the average height of NBA players was 6′7, the highest recorded in history and around 3 inches higher than the average height in 1952, which was only 6′4. After 1987, the number gradually decreased as players became heavier and more muscular. Currently, most players in the NBA are within the 6′4-6′9 range, with the most prevalent height being 6′6 – 74 athletes from the current league roster are listed with that exact height on the official NBA website. Out of a total of 568 players, 70 are 6′5 tall, 63 are 6′4 and another 61 are 6′7. So, while in the 2021-2022 NBA season, the average basketball player was 6’6 tall, he is now a bit taller, at around 6′7 making a full circle back to the stats of 1987.

Height Number of NBA Players in the Current League Roster
5′11 4
6′0 12
6′1 26
6′2 22
6′3 34
6′4 63
6′5 70
6′6 74
6′7 61
6′8 56
6′9 52
6′10 39
6′11 30
7′0 24
7′1 5
7′2 2
7′3 1

High school and Collegiate Basketball

Most professional basketball players demonstrate their special talent before college – either early in high school or even in middle school. So what can tip the odds is whether you have played basketball in school and, then, in college. The vast majority of newly drafted players come from Division I athletics. And this is where raw data shows how tough it really is to make it to the NBA.

Roughly 500,000 boys play basketball in school at any given time in the U.S. According to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, 521,616 boys competed in basketball games in the 2021-2022 school year. At the same time, there were 18,179 male basketball players competing in all 3 divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for 2020-2021 (the latest data available). Those in Division I, who are most likely to be drafted officially, were 5,485 – 4,589 of them with a full scholarship. As participation rates for both school and collegiate sports remain quite steady each year, we can calculate that roughly 3.5% of high school players will participate in the sport at a collegiate and university level. And 1.05% of high schoolers who play basketball would move on to Division I.

From there, players can be drafted in the club rosters, considering they meet several basic requirements such as being at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft. In 2021, there were 60 available slots at the NBA annual draft and 50 of the picks were from NCAA teams – 3 players came from NBA’s own G League Ignite while 7 were international players. This means that less than 1% (0.91%) of college players made it to the NBA draft – the percentage rises to 1.09% if we consider only those with full scholarships.
Of course, some NBA players have never been officially drafted and others have never been to college. In conclusion, we could say that around 0.01% of those who play basketball in high school would make it to the NBA – that is 1 in 10,000.

High school Participants (boys, school year 2021-22) NCAA Division I Participants (male athletes, 2020-21) NCAA Division I Full Scholarship Participants (male athletes, 2020-21) NBA Draft Picks 2021 NCAA Drafted 2021 Percentage of NCAA to NBA (with full scholarship) Percentage of High school to NBA Percentage of High school to NCAA
521,616 5,485 4,589 60 50 1.089562% 0.009586% 1.05%

Top Colleges for NBA Players

Since all players in the NBA are required to have finished high school at least one year before being accepted in the pro league, high schoolers have an entire year to themselves after graduation. And while some of them go overseas to start playing professionally right away, most actually choose to stay home and spend at least one year in college. Unlike most of the world, college and university teams in the U.S. receive a lot of funding and are able to provide excellent training programs for their students.

Of course, certain colleges have long traditions in one or more sports, including basketball, football, and baseball and historically, they have produced more professional athletes than others. When it comes to professional basketball, several college teams are largely responsible for developing the talent and skills of NBA stars. Looking at the current team rosters, we can see that the top colleges for NBA players are Kentucky and Duke – 29 players came from Kentucky Wildcats and another 28 played for the Blue Devils.

College/University Number of Representatives in Current Roster
Kentucky 29
Duke 28
Kansas 13
Arizona 11
Michigan 11
North Carolina 11
Southern California 11
Texas 10
Gonzaga 10
Villanova 10
Virginia 10

Hometowns and States

Being born in a certain place can increase your chances of becoming a professional basketball player. Obviously, if you were born in the U.S., you are much more likely to make it to the top league in this sport. But which cities produce the most NBA players? Let’s take a look at the latest draft, the 2022 class. It’s easy to see that the only two American cities represented with more than one player are Detroit and Minneapolis. The French capital of Paris also has two athletes who were picked during the 2022 draft.

Draft Pick # Name University/Team Home Town State Country Height (ft) Weight (lb) Position Secondary Position
1 Paolo Banchero Duke Seattle Washington USA 6’10 250 PF
2 Chet Holmgren Gonzaga Minneapolis Minnesota USA 7’0 195 C
3 Jabari Smith Auburn Fayetteville Georgia USA 6’11 220 PF
4 Keegan Murray Iowa Cedar Rapids Iowa USA 6’8 215 PF
5 Jaden Ivey Purdue South Bend Indiana USA 6’4 195 SG
6 Bennedict Mathurin Arizona Montreal Quebec Canada 6’5 210 SG/SF SF
7 Shaedon Sharpe Kentucky London Ontario Canada 6’6 198 SG
8 Dyson Daniels G League Ignite Bendigo Victoria Australia 6’6 195 SF/SG SG
9 Jeremy Sochan Baylor Guymon Oklahoma USA/Poland 6’9 230 PF/C
10 Johny Davis Wisconsin La Crosse Wisconsin USA 6’5 194 SG/SF SF
11 Ousmane Dieng New Zealand Breakers Villeneuve-sur-Lot Europe France 6’10 205 SF/SG SG
12 Jalen Williams Santa Clara Gilbert Arizona USA 6’6 195 SG
13 Jalen Duren Memphis New Castle Delaware USA 6’10 250 C
14 Ochai Agbaji Kansas Milwaukee Wisconsin USA 6’5 215 SG
15 Marc Williams Duke Norfolk Virginia USA 7’0 242 PF/C C
16 A.J. Griffin Duke Dallas Texas USA 6’6 222 SF
17 Tari Eason LSU Portsmouth Virginia USA 6’8 216 PF
18 Dalen Terry Arizona Phoenix Arizona USA 6’7 195 SF/SG SG
19 Jake LaRavia Wake Forest Pasadena California USA 6’8 227 SF/PF PF
20 Malaki Branham Ohio State Columbus Ohio USA 6’5 195 SG/SF SF
21 Christian Braun Kansas Burlington Kansas USA 6’6 209 SG
22 Walker Kessler Auburn Atlanta Georgia USA 7’1 256 C/PF PF
23 David Roddy Colorado State Minneapolis Minnesota USA 6’6 255 SF
24 MarJon Beauchamp G League Ignite Yakima Washington USA 6’6 199 SF/SG SG
25 Blake Wesley Notre Dame South Bend Indiana USA 6’5 187 PG/SG SG
26 Wendel Moore Jr. Duke Richmond Virginia USA 6’5 217 SF
27 Nikola Jovic Mega Mozzart Leicester England Serbia 6’10 223 SF
28 Patrick Baldwin Jr. Milwaukee Evanston Illinois USA 6’9 230 SF/PF PF
29 TyTy Washington Jr. Kentucky Phoenix Arizona USA 6’3 196 PG
30 Peyton Watson UCLA Beverly Hills California USA 6’8 200 SG/SF
2nd Round 31 Andrew Nembhard Gonzaga Aurora Ontario Canada 6’5 196 PG SF
32 Caleb Houstan Michigan Mississauga Ontario Canada 6’8 205 SF/SG SG
33 Christian Koloko Arizona Douala Africa Cameroon 7’1 221 C
34 Jaylin Williams Arkansas Fort Smith Arkansas USA 6’10 240 PF
35 Max Christie Michigan State Arlington Heights Illinois USA 6’4 189 SG
36 Gabriele Procida Fortitudo Bologna Como Europe Italy 6’7 194 SG/SF SF
37 Jaden Hardy G League Ignite Detroit Michigan USA 6’4 198 SG
38 Kennedy Chandler Tennessee Cordova Tennessee USA 6’0 171 PG
39 Khalifa Diop Gran Canaria Guereo Africa Senegal 6’11 231 C
40 Bryce McGowens Nebraska Pendleton South Carolina USA 6’7 175 SG/SF SF
41 EJ Liddell Ohio State Belleville Illinois USA 6’7 243 PF
42 Trevor Keels Duke Clinton Maryland USA 6’5 224 SG
43 Moussa Diabate Michigan Paris Europe France 6’10 217 C
44 Ryan Rollins Toldeo Detroit Michigan USA 6’4 180 SG
45 Josh Minott Memphis Boca Raton Florida USA 6’8 205 SF
46 Ismael Kamagate Paris Basketball Paris Europe France 6’11 220 C
47 Vince Williams Jr. VCU Toledo Ohio USA 6’6 205 SG/SF SF
48 Kendall Brown Baylor Cottage Grove Minnesota USA 6’8 205 SF/SG SG
49 Isaiah Mobley USC San Diego California USA 6’8 235 PF
50 Matteo Spagnolo Vanoli Cremona Brindisi Europe Italy 6’4 196 SG
51 Tyrese Martin UConn Allentown Pennsylvania USA 6’6 215 SG/SF SF
52 Karlo Matkovic Mega Mozzart Livno Europe Bosnia & Herzigovina 6’9 231 PF/C C
53 JD Davison Alabama Montgomery Alabama USA 6’3 195 PG
54 forfeited
55 forfeited
56 Yannick Nzosa Unicaja Malaga Kinshasa Africa DR Congo 6’10 195 C
57 Gui Santos Minas Brasilia South America Brazil 6’8 209 SF
58 Luke Travers Perth Perth Australia Australia 6’7 207 SG/SF
59 Jabari Walker Colorado Wichita Kansas USA 6’9 215 PF/SF
60 Hugo Besson New Zealand Breakers Angers Europe France 6’5 180 SG/PG

According to data from Basketball-Reference, California, New York, and Illinois are the states with the most professional basketball players in history. The list below includes players who have debuted for the NBA (or BAA, Basketball Association of America) or the American Basketball Association (ABA), which existed until 1976 when it merged with the NBA.

State Number of NBA Players (BAA and ABA players included)
California 427
New York 419
Illinois 293
Pennsylvania 240
Texas 200
Ohio 200
Michigan 162
Indiana 158
New Jersey 146
North Carolina 146
Georgia 141
Louisiana 124
Florida 122
Kentucky 117