Although the NBA finals were unexciting compared to previous years, they produced enough highlight dunks for two series. Most of them were courtesy of LeBron, although Iguodala and KD had a few jams of their own (all of whom have made the All-Slamma-Jamma teams in years past). But what about the whole season? Which players treated us to the nastiest dunks? I don’t know, actually, which is one of the reasons I choose to write this article each year. But I’ll start looking now so I can fill you in below:
Slamma-Jamma 1st team:
PG, Russell Westbrook: The most athletic point guard the game has seen, Westbrook once again earned a spot on the ASJ 1st team. His 49 dunks were the most among all guards, and as per usual, they were also the most explosive in today’s game. Whatever extra gear the Westbeast has in his game definitely gets applied to his dunks. This year, his signature dunk was his clutch game-sealing dunk on Houston.
Wing, LeBron James: LBJ’s 145 dunks ranked second among non-bigs. Although he saved some of his best dunks for the Finals, his regular season dunks didn’t disappoint. Although LeBron’s hangtime isn’t quite what it once was, he still gets up there enough to posterize people. Given his size and power, he tends to dunk through people more than over people, which likely results in damaged bodies and egos for his opponents.
Wing, Giannis Antetokounmpo: Giannis’ 194 dunks were fourth in the league (and most among non-bigs). Given that number of dunks, you’d think he’d have more posterizations. Instead, it seems defender get out of the way because they feel helpless blocking him due to his absurd length. And it’s that length that leads to the “wow” factor in his dunks. Giannis will dunk from angles or distances that no one else would bother attempting. Several of his in-game dunks this seasons were nearly from the free throw line, and he flushed them with ease. Given his youth, only better dunks are to come for the Greek Freak.
Big, Aaron Gordon: Aaron Gordon played most of his minutes as a SF this year, but he’s at his best as a PF which is why we have him as a big on our squad. There were other bigs who had more dunks than Gordon this season (99 dunks), but Gordon’s bounce propels him onto the first team. He’s bouncier than anyone else on this list, which a spring reminiscent of Vince Carter or Gerald Green. That–combined with superb body control–leads to more acrobatic dunks than any other on the first team can claim. Gordon’s game continue to expand, and hopefully that will free up his driving lanes for more dunks rather than take him away the paint.
Big, DeAndre Jordan: DJ seems to lead the league in dunking every season. Sure, some of that can be attributed to have Chris Paul setting him up, but Jordan seems to have this dunking thing down. DeAndre has a special knack for turning any pass–high or low, behind or in front–into an alley-oop. That sometimes means those dunks are reversed, side-ways, or thrown in, but the man finds a way to flush it. Next season he’ll be CP3-less, but hopefully his dunks will lead him to another spot on the ASJ team.
Slamma-Jamma 2nd team:
PG, John Wall: Wall’s 44 dunks this year ranked second among point guards, behind only Russell Westbrook. After returning from double-knee surgery, he claimed to feel healthier than ever at season’s start. Although it took him a couple weeks to find his legs, once he did he was rocking the rim. Wall’s penchant for lefty dunks catch defenders off-guard, leading to sweet posters. Throw in the fact that he can jump off either one or two feet, and you have a point guard destined for an ASJ team nomination.
Wing, Victor Oladipo: Oladipo’s dunk total (39) wasn’t particularly impressive, but among those 39 he had ASJ-worthy dunks. Compared to his teammate Westbrook, Oladipo isn’t as forceful but a tad bouncier. No play better captured Oladipo’s dunking ability than his double-clutch hammer that won “dunk of the year” at the first-ever NBA awards show.
Wing, Andrew Wiggins: Given Wiggins’ length, athleticism, and ability to score, you’d like him to have more poster dunks among his total of 77 dunks (which was top 5 among non-bigs). He’d be well-served being able to dunk when driving left, with his left hand (or even both hands), or off of one foot. But he makes it work, and the product is crazy cock-back posters off of both feet that show a bounce few others can replicate.
Big, Larry Nance: Larry had somewhat of a breakout season for the Lakers, although he’d already established himself as a top-notch dunker. This season was no exception. Many bigs eclipsed his 60 dunks this season, but no one else posterized like Nance. In particular, his dunk on the behemoth that his Brook Lopez stands out as one of the best poster dunks of the decade:
Big, Blake Griffin: We’re used to seeing Blake Griffin on the ASJ first team, but his game seems to become more ground-bound and perimeter-oriented every year. It makes sense, but it’s a shame for those who long for the days of his “Oh me, oh my” dunks. Even though his bounce has eroded some, he still finds a way to posterize enough opponents every year to be worthy of another ASJ nomination.