Part of the reason fans love the NBA is because you can sit back and watch extraordinary athletes do things most of us will never do in our lifetimes.
One of those incredible feats?
While it may not show up on any regular stat sheet, the alley-oop has become a play fans love to see. Whether you’re an avid watcher or a casual observer, high-flying plays at the rim have likely caught your eye before.
In a game where fundamentals are often forgotten, the alley-oop rises above all, and with the talent of the league continuing to rise, there are a handful of duos who will grab your attention in 2012-13.
LaMarcus Aldridge began to establish himself in the alley-oop game in 2012, and with the sixth overall pick in Damian Lillard coming to Rip City, that trend should continue right on in to 2013.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been known the past few seasons for their slow, boring pace. Now, with Brandon Roy and Nate McMillan both out of the picture, the team has hired Terry Stotts to run the offense, and run it he will.
With the team looking to play in the fast break, Lillard will be given the opportunity to show he can be a distributor. He is already very good in the pick-and-roll game—an area Aldridge excels at when finishing lobs—and playing quickly will allow him to look up the court when making plays for his teammates.
There’s no doubt that Lillard will look for his own opportunities throughout the season, both in the fast break and in the half court. When he and Aldridge begin clicking, they have the potential to become one of the most exciting point-forward combos that the game has to offer.
Although we haven’t seen it yet, Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee have the potential to become one of the top connections in the lob game in 2013.
Lawson is becoming one of the league’s up-and-coming point guards, having increased his numbers to 16.4 points and 6.6 assists in 2012. His ability to find his teammates is solid, but his blinding speed is what creates confusion on defense and opens up opportunities for those around him.
If anybody is going to profit from confused defenses, it’s McGee.
McGee took major strides following the trade to the Denver Nuggets, and if he can continue to develop and stay disciplined game in and game out, he’ll be the perfect partner for Lawson.
Following the departure of Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton is going to be under incredible scrutiny throughout the entire 2012-13 season.
That being said, if he can come in and establish an instant connection with Tyson Chandler, that will slowly alleviate the pressure that comes with playing in Madison Square Garden.
Chandler was one of the best alley-oop big men in 2012, and with a point guard who is more than willing to push the pace, he should continue his success with a seamless transition.
While Felton will be the one running the point, another viable option in the lob game will be Carmelo Anthony.
We don’t usually think of Anthony as a facilitator, but he thrived in 2012 when it came to throwing the ball at the rim and allowing Chandler to come down and finish strong.
Anybody playing alongside Ricky Rubio has a chance to be a part of a great duo, but with a player of Derrick Williams’ athleticism, the opportunities rise dramatically.
Rubio and Williams had two drastically different rookie seasons. Until his injury late in the year, Rubio was seemingly meeting the high expectations that had been placed upon him, while Williams was struggling to find himself offensively.
Part of the problems for Williams was the way he was being used, but consistency also played a major role in his struggles.
At this point in Rubio’s career, he looks as if he could be a player who makes his teammates better on a regular basis, and Williams could benefit tremendously if this is the case.
We all know Williams can fly high above the rim, and if these two start connecting in 2013, they’ll have a chance to show the league what they can really do.
As much as the Los Angeles Clippers have improved since Chris Paul’s arrival, DeAndre Jordan may be the biggest beneficiary.
Jordan’s game is raw on offense to the point where it’s tough to trust him with the ball in his hands. He can’t dribble around defenders, his post moves are almost non-existent and his shot is about as broken as it gets.
That being said, his athleticism is jaw-dropping, and having one of the best facilitators in the game on his side highlights exactly what he was made to do.
When Paul throws the ball at the rim, Jordan goes up and gets it—it’s as simple as that.
Whether it’s Wade throwing the lob to James, or James passing it off to Wade, these two create for the most interchangeable alley-oop combo in the entire NBA.
With James on the finishing end more often than not, his extreme athleticism and incredible strength combine to make one of the most dangerous players in the game flying through the air.
Although these two typically connect in the fast break, they’re certainly capable of awing crowds in half-court sets as well—just ask John Lucas III.
Whether the Miami Heat defend their title in 2013 or not, the fact remains that this group is one of the most fun teams to watch in basketball, and it’s almost completely because of the irrefutable connection between two of the league’s best players.
Steve Nash and Dwight Howard have never played a game together, yet there is legitimate reason to believe they’ll push for the top spot on this list by the time the 2013 season officially comes to an end.
Nash has been known throughout his entire career for pushing the pace. He did wonders for Amar’e Stoudemire with the Phoenix Suns, and now that he’s teaming up with the most athletic big man in the entire NBA, you have to believe the ball will be flying through the air in fast-break situations all season long.
But even as Nash loses his speed and quickness with age, there is a not-so-secret weapon that this group can always fall back on.
These two players are two of the best pick-and-roll options at their respective positions, and they’ll have the option to utilize those skill sets as long as this team remains intact.
Chris Paul is arguably the NBA’s best point guard, and Blake Griffin has become perhaps the NBA’s most exciting finisher.
Together, they make for the best alley-oop combination that the game has to offer.
When Paul arrived in Los Angeles, people knew these two were going to connect on many occasions. They can get it done in the fast break, they can finish in the half court and they can surprise in situations where you never see it coming.
Paul’s court vision is among the best in the NBA, and Griffin’s leaping ability and sheer power above the rim are virtually untouched by the competition.
Simply put, there’s a reason they call it "Lob City."