Re-Ranking the Best Dunks of the NBA Season
With ridiculous dunks moving from NBA players' hands to fans' eyes and promptly onto YouTube, re-evaluating this season's dunks has become a priority...and an enjoyable one at that.
Between Harrison Barnes' early-season dunk over Nikola Pekovic, DeAndre Jordan's eulogy of Brandon Knight and a few throwback dunks from Kobe Bryant, we have plenty of stuff to look back on and remember fondly.
Blake Griffin does his daily dunk-a-thon alongside Jordan, JaVale McGee's ridiculously long arms create the best opportunity for silly-looking slams and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are as dunk-happy as they've ever been.
Throw in a handful of bright young point guards ready to throw alley-oops, plus good defenders willing to step in front of streaking dunkers, and we've had a ton of opportunities for alley-oops that have fallen like melting icicles from a gutter.
With the athleticism around the league and everyone's general disregard for being dunked on, this has been the year of the posterization, and it's time we take a long, hard look at the year that was in dunks.
10. Kobe Throwing It Back
Whenever we get Kobe Bryant doing something remotely athletic with a defender in the way, the Internet stops, freaks out and starts hyping it from coast to coast.
Kobe had two particular moments this year in which the Internet stopped and took notice: first, his slam past Josh Smith (although we heard time and time again that it was over Smith); and second, his slam in traffic against the Nets.
While this one didn't have much above-the-rim action, it did have Kobe fending off a pair of defenders on his way to the hoop.
He sped past Gerald Wallace, who spent his time recovering trying to force Kobe into Kris Humphries, and then took plenty of contact from Hump on the way up.
Kobe Bryant just dunked on the Nets, maybe all of them— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) February 6, 2013
This was one where everything leading up to the dunk ended up being much more exciting than the actual dunk, but the dunk itself was more than solid as well.
9. That Seems to Be a New One
Just when you think you've seen every LeBron-Wade or Wade-LeBron alley-oop combination possible, they whip out another one.
The combination of the Kings playing sloppy ball, a save by Mario Chalmers and LeBron and Wade out and galloping gave fans in Sacramento the chance to see one of the best Wade-LeBron oops since the two teamed up.
Wade hit LeBron in mid-air, and at the last second LeBron decided to go with a 180-degree spin and slam it home backward.
LeBron on that alley-oop: "They always tell me I do the same dunks over and over and over.... So I decided to do something different."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 13, 2013
It was definitely different, with quite the twist on his normal alley-oop routine.
8. Not Doing Matt Any Favors
In the year of the brutal posterization, this one nearly fell by the wayside in the wake of the LeBron-Terry annihilation and the DeAndre Jordan-Brandon Knight murder.
Derrick Favors has put together a season where he's looked like the best option for the Utah Jazz to start in the frontcourt, doing it all with defense more than offense.
Of course, that doesn't mean he has been a complete louse on offense.
Well... That may have been the best Favors dunk yet. From three feet outside the circle, a two-handed jam over Bonner.— Bill Oram (@tribjazz) March 23, 2013
It may be a bit of a disappointment that he dropped it in over Matt Bonner, who is hardly the most athletic fellow in the league, but at least Bonner is tall.
7. Sorry, Cuz
Once again, this is another stellar slam that came in the wake of Jason Terry and Brandon Knight's tandem funeral, but there was every bit as much dominance going on in this one.
Only reason that Cousins dunk on Randolph didn't generate DeAndre on Knight or LeBron on Terry reactions is cause nobody watches Kings— Akis Yerocostas (@Aykis16) March 29, 2013
DeMarcus Cousins grabbed the pass and piled coal into his engine, and as the Boogie Locomotive ran to the nearest stop, there just happened to be a stray Anthony Randolph on the tracks.
DeMarcus did the only thing possible and completely smashed him.
Randolph did his best to draw a charge, but there was nothing left of him afterwards to deem where he was at the time of contact.
6. All 17 Fans Go Crazy
If you had thrown out odds on who would be the guy to have the nastiest dunk thrown down over him for the season, Byron Mullens would be near the top.
However, he would have been about 256th in the league among players likely to smash in one of the league's best dunks, just in front of Raymond Felton.
Mullens streaked down the lane, took off from about a mile out and used his long arms to stretch out and over LaMarcus Aldridge, slamming it home.
My favorite part of the Mullens dunk is the Portland announcers pretending Aldridge is outside the restricted area. cbssports.com/nba/blog/eye-o…— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) December 4, 2012
The sparsely populated crowd was moderately excited.
5. JET Crash
LeBron James' dunk over Jason Terry in the midst of the Heat's win over the Boston Celtics was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable moments of their winning streak.
Not only was it a huge posterization, but it was a triumph of three players, which makes it seem all the more impressive.
James slammed it home over a crumbling Terry, stared him down a bit and then grabbed an undeserved technical foul for taunting. If you dunk on someone with that amount of force, you should be allowed to bust out a guitar solo with no repercussions.
LeBron's best dunk of the year. No question.— chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) March 19, 2013
Miami went on to win its 23rd consecutive game. The only thing that would have negated the devastation on Terry would be Boston actually stopping the streak.
4. Unnecessarily Awesome
It was the closest thing we've seen to the Harlem Globetrotters in the NBA since the Showtime Lakers put on a show with nightly consistency, and it was completely unnecessary.
With the Los Angeles Clippers coasting to a dominant win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Jamal Crawford grabbed an outlet pass in front of Blake Griffin and threw up a between-the-legs pass to Griff.
Needless to say, the crowd and the world went insane.
JAYCRAWCRAYCRAYCRAYCRAY— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 7, 2013
To make that much better, Blake decided that a toss like that deserved a bit more than just an aggressive slam; he threw in a windmill for our troubles.
3. Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New Shawn Bradley
Sometimes I feel bad for Timofey Mozgov, but then I realize he gets paid $3 million to play 10 minutes a game and be a human punching bag.
It's become maddeningly entertaining.
DeMar DeRozan is the latest character to give Mozgov a good posterizing, and he did it almost as well as Blake Griffin a few years back.
Disregarding the fact that DeRozan completely embarrassed Mozgov—DeRozan moved him a good four feet with the huge momentum he had going—you have to give him credit for stepping in and doing his best to stop the dunk.
2. Harrison Barnes Has a Bone to Pek
It was the best dunk of the year before DeAndre Jordan blew everyone's mind with his smash on Brandon Knight, so it goes without saying that it deserves the next-best spot.
Less than a month into the season, Harrison Barnes grabbed a pass at the top of the lane, streaked into the paint and slammed a dunk home over Nikola Pekovic as the Golden State Warriors bench had their first display of magnificence on the season.
Footage of Harrison Barnes practicing the murder of Nikola Pekovic over some 5th grade kid! tinyurl.com/d8c2dsh— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 25, 2012
There's a good argument for this being the best dunk of the year, what with Barnes being a shorter dude and Pekovic being roughly nine feet tall, but this one has to settle for the second spot for the time being.
1. Breaking the Internet
DeAndre Jordan got a little bit of help from Chris Paul on his way to completely dismantling the Internet, as everyone did their best to make sense of what they had just witnessed.
If you are a friend of Brandon Knight, please don't let him near a TV, Phone, Computer until at least Wednesday.— Robert Littal (@BlkSportsOnline) March 11, 2013
The biggest reason that I'm still a proponent of this one being the dunk of the year over Barnes' slam is that the height of the defender was almost negated when you realize that Knight was in a full-on leap, while Pekovic had gotten off one foot at best.
Knight did his best to meet Jordan at the peak of his jump, but Jordan's just too big, too tall and too determined to dunk on everyone in the NBA.
Generally I support players playing defense all the way through and doing their best to stop an easy two points, but in this case I'd advocate just moving out of the way.