Dunking is the most culturally pervasive gift basketball has to offer. We teach our children to do it as soon as they are old enough to throw away their dirty napkins. We put posters of our favorite dunks on bedroom walls as much as those of our most beloved athletes. It’s an action whose power has inspired a hundred synonyms–jamming, slamming, yamming, stuffing, flushing, crushing, and crunching, among others.
As we are wont to do every season, AGR honors this season’s best dunkers by naming them to the annual Slamma-Jamma teams.
Slamma-Jamma 1st Team
PG, John Wall: JW2 isn’t the best dunking point guard in the league–that’d almost certainly be Russell Westbrook–but JW2 earns this year’s nod at point guard due to his dunk contest victory, his second-ranking 43 dunks among point guards, and the nasty finishes that came with them. Wall served up the slams all year, from 360 dunks to flat-out facials.
SG, Paul George: George might be more of a small forward, but his 360-windmill dunk-of-the-year candidate makes him an automatic first-teamer. He is among the best and most frequent wing dunkers every year (69 dunks on the year), but he outdid himself with the above-linked open-court masterpiece. You know you are an elite dunker when you convert an in-game version of a dunk popularized by the greatest dunker ever.
SF, LeBron James: After failing to earn a first-team nod in the first two incarnations of the Slamma-Jamma teams, the King earns his second-straight nomination to the first team. Nearly all of his 134 dunks registered on the richter scale, no matter whether they came from alley-oops, hard cuts, or off the dribble. Kevin Durant was the lone wing player with more dunks (they were ranked 6th and 7th, league-wide), but James’ had more power and flair.
PF, Blake Griffin: AGR made its first Slamma Jamma team four years ago, Griffin’s rookie year. Not only did he make the first team, but he inspired its very existence. Since then, BG has made the first team every year and is the only player who can make that claim. Every year has its own poster dedicated to a Grffin-victim (see: Mosgov; Perkins). This year, we have Kris Humphries to thank. Blake also reinvented fast-break showmanship with this pair of windmill alley-oops, which were two of his fourth-ranked 176 dunks.
C, DeAndre Jordan: DeAndre 3000, as NBA.com’s Jared Greenberg likes to call him, was an absolute monster of a basketball player this year. It earned him the starting center position on Frank Reynolds’ Trashman Team, and it also translated to a league-leading 245 dunks his year–the most in any season since Dwight Howard’s 268 in 2007-08. While he didn’t have a dunk akin to his Brandon Knight baptism, I don’t think the below video will disappoint.
Slamma-Jamma 2nd Team
PG, Damian Lillard: When Lillard came into the league, scouts compared his game to Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry–that is to say, he was said to be a below-the-rim “skill” player whose greatest attributes are handling, shooting, and savvy. While those latter traits are indeed his greatest strengths, the world has since learned that Lillard both has a jumper and is a jumper, himself. He participated in this year’s dunk contest and punctuated many of his 22 dunks with his signature lean-in crunch.
SG, Terrence Ross: You know it’s a good year for dunks when a two-time (kinda, more like 1.5) dunk champ and owner of this year’s best poster jam has to settle for the second team. Unfortunately for fans, he “only” registered 24 dunks this year. He still had a solid sophomore campaign, so Ross should have plenty of chances to regain his first-team spot.
SF, Gerald Green: For many, Green is the league’s most exciting dunker. Sure, guys like Blake and DeAndre produce more highlights per season, but Green seems to fly higher than any other dunker. Catching word of an awesome Gerald Green dunk inspires kid-like wonder and excitement. With his length and effortless hops, he at times makes dunking look too easy for it to impress. Still, he has Vince-like dunking flair, is singularly good at dunking off jump-stops, and is the league’s best double-clutch dunker.
PF, Anthony Davis: AD put up an an award-worthy sophomore campaign, from both a basketball and dunking perspective. It’s his first time making a Slamma-Jamma team, and for good reason. His 146 dunks ranked fifth league-wide, and his long arms and sneaky hops made for some impressive highlights. He was particularly deadly off of oops and pick-and-rolls. He’s only 21 years-old, so hopefully we’ll have another decade of Brow-bangers (I know that doesn’t work, but I had to try…).
C, Miles Plumlee: Unlike Davis, who we expected to dominate in his second year, Plumlee came out of nowhere. “Frequent Flyer Miles” won the starting center job on the Suns, and did not dissappoint–especially when he was airborne. He was 13th in the league with 103 dunks (ranking just behind his younger brother, who was 10th), and gave white kids around the world hope for their own jumping abilities.
Who was your favorite dunker? Who did we leave off the list? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook.