The Top 5 Dunkers in the NBA
*Photo via NBA.com
This past year’s dunk contest will go down as one of the best in NBA history. Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine battled dunk-for-dunk, reminiscent of the dunk wars featuring his “Airness”, Michael Jordan and “The Human Highlight Film,”, Dominique Wilkins. Since I did not grow up watching Jordan and Wilkins in the dunk contest or just in general, when I think about the greatest dunkers in NBA history that I myself have witnessed, I’m talking about Vince Carter, LeBron James, Josh Smith, Jason Richardson and Tracy McGrady and look these are subjective picks because I grew up watching this game in the last decade. Today, there’s a whole new cast of airmen that are worth the price of admission, because you just never know what they will do on any given night. They have youth, springs in their legs and most of all flair. Here are the top 5 dunkers of today:
1.Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
I knew about LaVine since high school, so I knew he had bounce and it was only a matter of time until the world realized the greatness the kid displays in the air. I’ve never seen someone make dunking look as easy as LaVine does. At 6’5, with a slender frame, it’s easy for LaVine to get off the ground quick. Not to mention, his 6’8 wingspan allows him to finish impossible passes on the break, in addition to creating extension on his dunks for powerful finishes. LaVine is a leaper, with springboards for legs, and rarely do you find defenders willing to challenge him in the sky. And to validate his spot at no.1, LaVine might probably have the best dunk of the 2010’s in last year’s “Space Jam” dunk. Just watch how effortless it is for LaVine to get off the floor in the video below:
2.LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
He’s the best player in the game. He has rings. He can score on anybody and posterize anybody. If you guessed LeBron James, you're right. James might be one of the best NBA players in NBA history to never enter the dunk contest, but in a hall-of-fame career spanning 13-years and counting, James has blessed the world with Kodak moment dunks. The dunk over Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the and-1 over Rasheed Wallace in the playoffs. And you can’t forget about when he destroyed Jason Terry off the lob from Norris Cole. There’s too many to name, but you get the point. Whether it’s a breakaway, getting by his defender off a crossover or just pure will and determination, when James dunks the ball, it almost feels like it should be worth three points. As a dunker James has all the attributes: speed, power, hops and the ability to dunk through contact. When it comes to James, despite the rings, success and celebrity status, the tomahawk slam is a part of his trademark.
3.Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
I was debating myself whether or not Russell Westbrook deserves the number three spot on this list but my gut tells me Blake Griffin is the man. He is the perfect aerial assault on the basket, mixed with a little flair. What stands out to me about Griffin is not just the hops. It isn’t how fast he’s off his feet or how violently he attacks the rim, but it’s the fact that he’s the cleanest dunker, all while being one of the most violent dunkers. With the whole package as a dunker, Griffin has added several victims to his poster-club, featuring: Danilo Gallinari, Kendrick Perkins (OMG), Pau Gasol (not once, but twice in the SAME GAME), Serge Ibaka, and plenty more. Griffin is one of the best frontcourt players in the league but there’s no doubt that being a supreme dunker has elevated this star.
4.Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is one of my favorite players in the league. When you watch Westbrook, you’ll quickly understand that he gives a damn. He’s all about winning and his will to win, heart and determination coupled with a 6’3, 200-pound, chiseled, athletic frame make him one of the best dunkers in the league today. And with Kevin Durant no longer an ally, Westbrook will take every opportunity that presents itself to remind the league that there’s still a superstar in OKC. When Westbrook dunks, you can feel it from wherever you are, whether that’s on your living room couch or your favorite sports bar. With each slam, there’s fury, recklessness and power, and the dunk at 0:48 below is the perfect example of it:
5.Gerald Green, Boston Celtics
Green rounds out the list for being the dunker most inclined to take risks in the air. Green keeps you guessing when he takes to the skies. You never know if you’re going to get a windmill, reverse slam, or a 360 but if Green’s playing, you’ll see something spectacular sooner or later.