It’s mid-July, which means Summer League is over, which means we’ll be without NBA basketball for awhile, which means 100+ days of crying myself to sleep. The only remedy? Writing about humankind’s greatest invention: Dunking. Sure, agriculture is great. Industry, medicine, and the internet are alright, too. But they ain’t got nothin’ on the art of the dunk.
In that spirit, AGR continues it’s annual tradition of honoring the season’s top dunkers. Behold, the top dunkers of the 2014-15 season:
Slamma-Jamma 1st Team
PG, Russell Westbrook: Beast Mode. It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before, but it’s now being used to specifically describe Westbrook. That says something, and whatever that something is, it applies directly to his dunks. Westbrook led all point guards with 48 dunks, made all the more impressive by the fact that he missed 15 games. He dunks the ball as hard as humanly possible every time, and it’s a wonder his wrist hasn’t fallen off yet.
SG, Andrew Wiggins: It shouldn’t surprise that Wiggins, one the “Bounce Brothers” and a first overall draft pick, is a Slamma-Jamma nominee. After all, his high school mixtape suggests that he jump over a giraffe. What’s surprising, however, is that he managed to twice dunk on this year’s premier rim protector and Trashman MVP, Rudy Gobert. Even more impressive, he led all shooting guards in dunks (79) and was third among all wing players. “Maple Jordan” has a special ability to dunk off of jump stops and spin moves, which should make for for posters in the years to come.
SF, LeBron James: It’s no fun to give extra praise to someone who has been showered with it since he was in diapers. But LBJ earned it, if in part because the normal culprits–Paul George, Rudy Gay, Gerald Green–couldn’t get their aerial acts together. James’ 88 dunks were the fewest he’s had in any season in his career (partially due to missed 13 games, partially because he’s a bit older), but he still managed to impress with double-pump reverses, left-handed windmills, and cock-back alley-oops.
PF, Blake Griffin: Like James, Griffin had fewer dunks this season than any other in his career. His 84 were less than half as many as any other season, as his game evolved away from dunking, and he only ranked 18th league-wide in made dunks. Still, no other power forward does it quite like BG. Griffin didn’t give us his annual poster dunk in the regular season–those would come in the playoffs. It almost seems as if opponents duck out of the way for fear of becoming the next Mosgov. At the very least he offered the season’s best windmill.
C, DeAndre Jordan: DeAndre 3000 bucked the BG/LBJ trend, going for a career high 252 dunks. Even more impressive was his lead over the field–Tyson Chandler was second with 179 dunks. Jordan is a special alley-ooper, facilitated by having Cp3 and Griffin as teammates. It’s tempting to say that he makes dunking look easier and more fun than any other player in the game’s history. In that spirit, we offer a top 20 dunks for DJ.
Slamma-Jamma 2nd Team
PG, Zach LaVine: LaVine’s 39 dunks ranked third among point guards (behind Westbrook and Shaun Livingston), but there’s an argument to be made that he’s a first-teamer. He’ll never have the maniacal aggression to his dunks that Westbrook has, but if he continues as a one-guard he may finish as the best dunking point man of all time. His effortless hops are reminiscent of Gerald Green, while his body control and dunking style evoke comparisons to Vince Carter. Add it all up, and you get one the best dunk contest performances we’ve seen in the past twenty years.
SG, Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Greek Freak strikes most as a small forward, but basketball-reference shows that he spent more time at the two-spot than the three this season. Add in the fact that he led all wing players in dunks (95), and it’d be criminal to leave him off of the team. Antetokounmpo has similarities to Wiggins in dunking style–what he lacks in hops he makes up for in height/length. Giannis will dunk off of euro-steps and spin-moves with ease. It’s not that he makes jumping look easy the way LaVine does–he just makes dunking look easy.
SF, Jeff Green: Green’s 55 dunks ranked a tad behind some of his swingman peers, but none of them–and damn near no one in the league–made posters like this guy in 2014-15. His annihilation of Kevin Seraphin might be the dunk of the season. But that award could also go to this clutch dunk over Marcus Morris. What Green lacks in dunking style he makes up for in his unmatched ability to make his opponents look like middle-schoolers. He puts out so many posters, I’m gonna star calling him the “Paper Boy.” We’ll see if it sticks.
PF, Derrick Williams: As a tweener, Williams is a dunker in the Jeff Green-Wilson Chandler mold. He lacks the off-the-dribble game that those two do, but he’s better than them at finishing oops and contorting his body for strange angle dunks and reverse jams, helping lead him to 65 dunks this year. Like Green, he has a strong case for dunk of the year with this degradation of a dunk over Bismack Biyombo. Williams might never fulfill the potential he showed as a #2 overall pick, but hopefeully he can sleep at night knowing he made an All-Slamma-Jamma team.
C, DeMarcus Cousins: DMC “only” had 72 dunks (albeit in 59 games), which only 23rd in the league. About 15 centers had more dunks than him including Tyson Chandler (179) and Andre Drummond (165), ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively. So why does Cousins make the team? The centers who have dunked more than DMC have largely done so off of setups from their teammates or easy tip-slams. Cousins, on the other hand, creates his dunks for himself, making for more difficult and entertaining slams. Among his top 10 are 1 on 5 fast-breaks, bully-dunks from the post, and reverse-posters that are Kobe-esque. If Jeff Green makes his opponents look like middle-schoolers, than Cousins makes them look like goddamn toddlers.
Barely missed the cut: As always, plenty of players rocked the rim this year. In their honor, here is an incomplete list of those who barely missed out on this year’s team: Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore, Mason Plumlee, Rudy Gobert, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Cory Brewer, Gordan Hayward, Victor Oladipo, and several others.
Will JaVale ever get back in the mix? Can DeAndre Jordan fly? 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.