With the NBA All-Star Weekend coming up and the most popular event being the dunk contest, I thought it'd be fun to take a look within a team that has no competitors in this year's contest to see who would rise to victory.
The only Thunder player with any actual experience in the contest is Serge Ibaka, but he has some teammates who could definitely hold their own in any dunk competition. Let's take a look at the roster and see which guy would fly the highest and take home a trophy in a Thunder-only dunk contest.
Fourth Place: Serge Ibaka
Air Congo got his nickname because he could fly. He really showed us with his free-throw-line dunk in the contest a couple years ago, but that inexplicably got a score of 45 out of 50 from the judges.
Ibaka has also shown his in-game dunk ability has some funk with an impressive throwdown on future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan in the Western Conference Finals last season.
While Ibaka can throw down with power and has the athleticism to do some crazy stuff, I think he lacks in true creativity for his dunks and would have trouble stealing the spotlight from his teammates. The vertical leap for a man of his size is certainly impressive, but alas, Air Congo would be grounded in this contest.
Third Place: Kevin Durant
Surprised to see KD this low? Don't be. Durant has some freakishly long arms that allow him to finish dunks that would be layups for the average NBA player, but it is also his giant wingspan that would work against him in this case.
Durant could do some nasty stuff in a dunk contest but having his long arms means he would need some serious hang time to pull off anything too complicated. Think of it this way, Durant's arms equate to 24-inch rims, which would take longer to make a full revolution on say a windmill dunk. This takes away a lot of the authority and power from dunks like this, making Durant a little more limited.
I'm not one to doubt KD, ever, but I think his in-game dunks are far more impressive than what he would do while alone on the court. If you don't believe me, refer to this clip of Durant disrespecting Brendan Haywood below.
Second Place: Perry Jones III
We've only seen a little bit of what the rookie Jones looks like as an NBA player, but he has a little history of doing some dunking in his day.
Even after some knee injury problems while at Baylor University, Jones has some crazy bounce and athleticism. I especially like his chances because he has experience in an actual dunk contest (albeit a high school one), so he would more or less have a better grasp on the pressure of dunking with a time limit or attempt limit and a crowd with all eyes on you in that moment.
Jones got a nice little taste of what it feels like to dunk on someone in the big leagues earlier in the preseason, with a real nice poster on Tyrus Thomas of the Bobcats.
It may be a stretch to say Jones would fare this well in a team-wide dunk contest this early in his career, but I think the rookie would really enjoy the chance to show up his well-known teammates and would rise (pun very much intended) to the occasion.
First Place: Kendrick Perkins
Calm down. Just a joke. Move along.
First Place: Russell Westbrook
I once read a comment on a website that referred to Russell Westbrook as "Peter Pan: because he can fly but he'll never grow up." While I do strongly disagree with that latter part, Russ sure can fly.
Westbrook is definitely the most athletically gifted and explosive member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his high-energy style of play makes the rim look shaky when he throws down a jam.
Russell is a nice compacted height of 6'4", giving him a lot of range to soar freely in the air and contort his body whichever way he pleases to drop the jaws of everyone watching him. It almost seems effortless for him sometimes when he gets up to get down, and his passion for fancy jams has been demonstrated even in an actual game against the Pistons.
There's no doubt in my mind that Westbrook would take this contest the most seriously out of anyone on the team, and his competitive nature would motivate him to win at all costs. His ridiculous hops and mixture of finesse and power make him a tantalizing prospect to see in a dunk contest.
He would definitely have his hand raised at the end of this Thunder-wide dunk competition.