DunkOrThree > Your Basketball Blog > NBA Players with Dreads Making Their Mark: Dreadlocks on the Court

NBA Players with Dreads Making Their Mark: Dreadlocks on the Court

Publish Date: 29.04.2024
Fact checked by: Emily Carter

The NBA is a player-focused league that puts a high emphasis on both look and style. Not only do athletes get a lot of attention for their clothes or jewelry, but their individual hairstyles are a part of their persona too.

There are many examples of unique haircuts throughout the league, but one of the most iconic is dreadlocks. Dreads have been a part of the NBA for decades, and they have recently come back into style with many current players choosing to wear them over cleaner looks.

1. Ja Morant (August 10, 1999)

There are many great players with dreads in today’s game, but few of them are able to match Ja Morant. The young Memphis Grizzlies star was widely touted as one of the best rookies coming into the league during his draft, and he’s only excelled since then.

In his first five years, Morant is a two time all star who won rookie of the year in 2020, NBA Most Improved Player in 2022, and made the All-NBA Second Team. That resume is then backed up with a slew of impressive stats, unique hairstyle, and an eye for the game.

2. DeAndre Jordan (July 21, 1988)

While he doesn’t have the star power he once did, DeAndre Jordan is still a strong bench piece for the Denver Nuggets who plays every once in a while. When he does, he has a unique dreadlock hair style that he’s worn for the past few years.

The towering center made the All-NBA First Team in 2016, was an all star in 2017, and is a two time rebounding leader (2014, 2015). His defense and high jumping ability both separated him from the pack and put him on the map.

Though he had a cleaner, buzz-cut style during his early years, Jordan now prefers to rock dreadlocks. That gives him a different, more seasoned look that shows his experience playing basketball at a high level.

3. Derrick Rose (October 4, 1988)

As with DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Rose is someone who came into the league with a short buzz cut and then adopted dreadlocks as he got older. The look gives him a more seasoned appearance and is a distinct break from who he was early on.

His switch over to the dreads signified a new chapter of his career, and helped signal his comeback. Though his last season with the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t end on a high note, he still earned an MVP in 2011, won rookie of the year, and made the All NBA First Team

4. Markelle Fultz (May 29, 1998)

Few rookies have come into the NBA with more hype than Orlando Magic point guard Markelle Fultz. The young sharpshooter may not have lived up to the overwhelming hype, but after a learning period he adapted into a dual threat.

He’s a strong passer, gifted scorer, and good leader who’s helped turn the Magic franchise around. As with many other players, he also came into the league with short hair. However, after years of going with a buzz cut, he switched over to dreads.

That shift coincides with a new phase of Fultz’s career and marks a change from a young guard trying to make it to a more professional player with plenty of skills under his belt. Many players choose dreadlocks as they get older, and Fultz is no exception.

5. Anthony Davis (March 11, 1993)

Anthony Davis has long been one of the best players in the NBA. Though he’s gone through many different and unique hairstyles in that time, he’s become more comfortable rocking his now-signature dreadlocks as of late.

The Los Angeles Lakers center has had an incredibly successful career that includes a championship (2020), 9 all star appearances, 4 All NBA First Teams, 2 NBA All Defensive First Teams, and three block leaders. He’s also still one of the best big men in the league.

While he doesn’t always wear his hair up in dreads, it’s a look he goes to quite often, and it’s one he will likely continue to go to in the future. In fact, it’s likely a look he’ll adopt until he decides to retire in the next few seasons.

6. Jericho Sims (October 20, 1998)

Many players who wear dreads adopted the style later on in their career, but New York Knicks center Jericho Sims wore it from day one. He’s always had a lot of hair, and that makes it easy for him to wear dreads without too much work or hassle.

Though he’s largely a bench player who spent a lot of his time in the NBA battling for a spot on the team, he’s gotten more playing time as of late due to his strong hustle and solid rebounding. He will likely continue to come off the bench, but slots in nicely to what New York wants to build.

7. Jimmy Butler (September 14, 1989)

As with Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler is another long time all star (and likely future hall of famer) who’s hairstyle has shifted during his time in the league. He used to wear his hair short, then grew it out, and now chooses to rock dreadlocks quite often with the Miami Heat.

Butler is one of the most seasoned players to have dreads, and he has a long list of accolades that include six all star appearances, the NBA’s Most Improved Player (2015), and the NBA steals leader (2021).

He’s been the leader of a good Heat team for some time now and, similar to his dreadlocks, shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon.

8. Elfrid Payton (February 22, 1994)

Elfrid Payton, currently with the Indiana Mad Ants, is another long time NBA player who made dreads a big part of his persona. The shifty guard wears his dreads up in a way that stands out even among others on this list.

His flashy hair style is so unique that it brought the style back into the public eye. While he’s currently in the G League, he had a long NBA career where he put up a slew of stats for several different teams. Even if people don’t know his name, they definitely know his hair.

9. Robin Lopez (April 1, 1988)

Robin Lopez is another player who adopted dreadlocks early on in his career and never went back. The seven foot center for the Milwaukee Bucks has a whole mess of hair that he never tried to tame or comb down. Rather, he let it grow wild.

That became a part of his look, and added to his seven foot frame to create a memorable appearance that worked for the big center. Though overshadowed by his brother Brook, Robin had a long and successful NBA career in his own right.

He never put up an extended amount of stats or stood out like other star centers, but he’s always known his role and embodied it well. He also did it while wearing dreads.

10. Jae Crowder (July 6, 1990)

Jae Crowder may not be as flashy or as well known as some other big time athletes on this list, but the Miluakee Bucks forward is a long time role player who’s a key piece of every team he joins. That’s why he’s stayed in the league so long, and why he’s always on strong squads.

Beyond being a consistent role player who puts up strong stats and helps his team, Crowder also has a signature look. He’s always sported long dreads, and continues to wear them to this day. It’s a style he likes, and one that he won’t break from anytime soon.


Dreadlocks are not a common style in the NBA. In fact, some of the least popular NBA players throughout history have chosen to wear dreads at one point or another. However, the perception has changed and trends are starting to shift.

Ja Morant, DeAndre Jordan, and Derrick Rose all embody the style in a significant way that has helped it reach more fans. Once a bit more unorthodox, there’s no telling how many rookies or young players might choose dreads over other hair styles within the next few years.

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