Most knowledgeable basketball fans appreciate a nice pick and roll. They love to see their team play good weak-side defense. But those plays don’t put fans in the seats and in front of the TV. The play that has made the NBA so exciting, the play that drives the record-setting revenue, is the dunk. And the good news for the NBA is a new generation of stars are dunking the #%&%*@ out of the ball. They’re dunking in transition, on ally-oops, in traffic, etc. It’s a great time for fans who love the art of the dunk. Here are five of the most explosive dunkers in the NBA today.
5. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons has a dunk party in the first half on League Pass! pic.twitter.com/ichBHgq5Li
— NBA (@NBA) November 14, 2017
After missing all of last season due to an injury, Simmons has wasted no time showing why the 76ers drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016. He’s getting plenty of opportunities to dunk because of his athleticism, as he picks up steals and runs the court so well. His dunking in a word: smooth. In fact, he’s so smooth, Simmons might be losing out on style points to other players who struggle to throw down the dunks he makes look so easy.
4. Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
— TooAthletic GameDay (@TooAthletic_GD) March 12, 2017
That 2016 NBA Slam Dunk competition that saw Gordon finish second to Zach LaVine was the best in the NBA since those Michael Jordan/Dominique Wilkins classics in the 1980s. Many say it was even better, but we’re partial to Jordan, Wilkins and others from that era who set the standard of showmanship and creativity for today’s players to match. The 6-9 Gordon can throw down those dunks in games, too (maybe not the jumping-over-the-mascot jam, but you get the idea).
3. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Hard to believe LaVine is still just 22. After winning the Slam Dunk Contest in back-to-back years in 2015-16, he’s got an automatic bid, so to speak, on lists of this nature for at least another couple of years. Some critics contend LaVine is a one-dimensional player, but he’s improved his overall game.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Even in an era of freakishly gifted big men in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo stands alone. The 6-11 player can do it all — and that includes jaw-dropping dunks. The thing about his dunks is they’re so varied. He’s got power dunks, finesse dunks and nonchalant 360 dunks that he hammers down almost with a yawn. But the best Greek Freak dunks are the ones you don’t expect. He’ll be running the court, say, at a spot where a normal player would throw the ball up off the glass for a layup, only he reaches out with a long arm and somehow dunks the ball at a bizarre angle.
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
— FedeMaxiPeru 🇮🇹 (@FedeMaXiPeru) October 9, 2017
That’s right, the reigning NBA MVP, the guy who might be the best player in the league right now, is the best dunker, too. Anger seems to drive Westbrook’s dunks. It looks like he wants to knock down the rim — or anyone who gets in his way — on every single dunk. Westbrook also has a penchant for getting full extension on many dunks, with his body somewhat parallel to the floor, creating that magical flying vibe.