How Dressel’s Vertical Leap Stacks Up Against The NBA’s Best

The average vertical leap for an NCAA basketball player is 30 inches. Olympic champion and former NCAA swimming-star, Caeleb Dressel, tops out at 41 inches. See how he compares to famous basketball players known for their vertical leaps.

  • Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets – 33.5
  • Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers – 35
  • Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers – 40
  • Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks (retired) – 42
  • Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls (retired) – 46

Per this article, Jordan’s 46-inch vertical is tied for the best in NBA history with Zach LeVine and James White, while Dressel’s 41 would rank in a tie for 12th with Isaiah Rider and O.J. Mayo.

Check out this video of a few times Dressel has shown off his insane vertical prior to racing via ZHL Swimming on YouTube:

This ability has helped Dressel develop the most explosive start in the world, instantly giving him a lead over his competitors.

Particularly crucial in short course swimming, Dressel’s start has helped him set NCAA, U.S. Open and American Records in the SCY 50 and 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke (which has since been broken), 100 butterfly and 200 IM, not to mention the world record in the SCM 50 free.

In long course, he owns the world record in the 100 fly, while also holding the distinction of being the fastest swimmer of all-time in a textile suit in both the 50 and 100 free.

To read more about Dressel and why his start is so lethal, read Olivier Poirier-Leroy‘s story from October of 2018 here.

Part of this story appeared in the 2017 College edition of SwimSwam Magazine.

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Xman
8 months ago

I remember 41 inches from a few years ago, I’m sure it has improved.

How does this compare to say a track field athlete?

remel can do anything
Reply to  Xman
8 months ago

his mom mentioned, about 42 or 43 now.

MTK
Reply to  Xman
8 months ago

Not sure what the verts of a 100/200m type guy in track would be, but from what I’ve heard, football players (specifically WR and CB) have even higher verts than most NBA guys because the aerobic demands of their sport are much lower and therefore they are more powerful.

No way dude
Reply to  MTK
8 months ago

Doubt it. The Vertical is way more applicable for NBA players. You probably have a higher average vertical in the NFL if you just measured skill players. But I think NBA players focus on improving that way more

Dudeman
Reply to  No way dude
8 months ago

It might be more applicable but when you’re 7ft tall you don’t really need to be able to jump that high to do most things in basketball. The average player height in the NBA is 6’7 so most players can dunk with around a 24 inch vertical when their arms are above their head. The average NFL height is around 6’1 and since they’re more focused on developing power it would make sense their vertical jumps could be higher on average

sven
Reply to  MTK
8 months ago

I think this is part of it. the other thing is that I think there’s more of a need for a high vertical in football. In basketball, basically all of them can dunk at 60% effort or less. Sure, there are advantages to being able to jump higher than the guy guarding you, but in general there’s not a huge need to be in the 40s if you can easily dunk and I don’t think vertical is one of the gatekeeper stats when trying to get drafted in the NBA. In football, even the best QB is gonna overthrow sometimes, so a receiver has got to be able to get there (or if you’re on defense you’ve got to be… Read more »

Alum14
Reply to  sven
8 months ago

The nba just doesn’t rely as heavily on numbers. Kevin Durant couldn’t bench press 135 at his combine, but if you can ball, you can ball. it’s definitely not because they don’t need a high vertical in basketball.

Most players on a basketball court are jumping at full power on most possessions at some point.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Alum14
8 months ago

I thought Durant couldn’t bench 225, he had to have been able to at least put up 135, right?

sscommenter
Reply to  Steve Nolan
8 months ago

I think it was 185, and he got no reps. I remember talking to the Boston Celtics training staff years ago when Al Jefferson was drafted (6’10 250) out of high school and he could barely do 185, a year later he could rep out 225 and i think maxed out around 300. Most of the guys above 6’7 don’t really hit weights till they stop growing. I know growing up (I’m only 6’5) people always said starting to early will stunt your growth (they also said the same about drinking coffee)

Admin
Reply to  sscommenter
8 months ago

sscommenter is correct – 0 reps at 185 pounds.

Jmoe
Reply to  sscommenter
8 months ago

I don’t think it was because of stunting your growth now though. I think it has to do with the body growing. I wish I didn’t start drinking coffee so early on in life. I want to be taller!

Gator
8 months ago

46 by MJ is crazy. No wonder he was best ever.

Ernie and Bert
8 months ago

Swim Swam just walked into the obligation of a swimmer dunk contest.

ElvisVB
Reply to  Ernie and Bert
8 months ago

I have a 41 inch vert as well. But I can’t dunk. Short arms 🙁

MTK
Reply to  ElvisVB
8 months ago

Unless you’re like 5’2, you should be able to dunk with a 40” vert.

GA Boy
Reply to  MTK
8 months ago

More like 4’8”

sven
Reply to  GA Boy
8 months ago

I’m picturing Matt Grevers grabbing Elvis around the waist and lifting him to the rim like a little kid so he can dunk.

Butch McFadden
Reply to  ElvisVB
8 months ago

Way to come on here and make it about you, Elvis…

O. Wilson
Reply to  Ernie and Bert
8 months ago

This is a swimmer: https://youtu.be/rnIdzfpQvdM

2Fat4Speed
Reply to  O. Wilson
8 months ago

Who?

Admin
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
8 months ago

Mason Norman. Swam at Wingate, currently the head coach at Ohio.

sscommenter
Reply to  Ernie and Bert
8 months ago

I swam d3 (just for the sake of context, we didn’t have NBA caliber athletes) and could out dunk anyone on the basketball team. windmill, reverses, double pumps/clutches -can’t turn off an athlete

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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