Michigan State Basketball: Predicting Spartans' Best Dunkers for 2013-14 Season

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIAugust 28, 2013

Michigan State Basketball: Predicting Spartans' Best Dunkers for 2013-14 Season

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    Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, Jason Richardson, Chris Allen and Durrell Summers headline the group of best dunkers during the Tom Izzo era at Michigan State. 

    And while Izzo doesn't have such a power-packed roster this season, he still has two of the better finishers in college hoops: Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, who each bring a different style in regards to attacking the rim. 

    When looking at this year's team, it's important to note that there aren't many high-flyers. With the exception of Payne and Dawson, the rest of the team is made up of situational dunkers. 

    Keith Appling won't throw down many alley-oops, but he's good for a one-handed flush off the break. The same goes for Gary Harris, a dynamic shooter and defender but far from a juggernaut dunker. 

    In this slideshow, Izzo's top finishers will be ranked according to skill, opportunity and frequency. 

Top Flight: Branden Dawson

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    He's 6'6", 220 pounds and can jump out of the gym. 

    That pretty much says it all. 

    Branden Dawson has two years of victimizing defenders on his resume, and the junior should continue his relentless attack on the iron this season for the Spartans, who are ranked No. 3 in ESPN's preseason Top 25

    Tomahawks. Windmills. Alley-oops. Other crazy gyration prior to violently flushing the ball. He has all of that. 

    Predicting Dawson as the team's top dunker is a no-brainer. However, he may not get as many opportunities as the next player on this list. 

Top Flight: Adreian Payne

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    At 6'10" and 240 pounds, Adreian Payne's length and agility cause problems for defenders. While he's improved his athleticism, allowing for more spectacular dunks, his bread and butter is the putback. With arms so long, it should come as no surprise. 

    Payne will catch his share of alley-oops this season. But the high-flying connections will likely be reserved for Branden Dawson. 

Top Flight: Keith Appling

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    He's not the biggest guy on the floor, but his one-handed hammers are a force to be reckoned with. 

    At 6'1", Keith Appling's ability to get up is a bit underrated. He doesn't have lead feet, but he's not Dominique Wilkins, either. In mere moments, Appling can glide from the perimeter, weave through traffic and execute at the rim. He's that quick. Because of his fleet nature, he's a deceptive finisher. Not many teams expect him to be so vicious. 

    But he is. 

     

Second Tier: Denzel Valentine

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    At 6'5" and 220 pounds, Denzel Valentine has a similar build as Branden Dawson. However, he doesn't have the same type of explosive athleticism. 

    That's OK. His game is much more well-rounded. Valentine can play the point, the 2-guard and even fill in as a smaller 3. He can pass, shoot and has had a nice finish or two while in college. He had the "dunk of the year," according to some YouTube viewers (and the title), during his senior year at Lansing Sexton. 

    Valentine isn't overly flashy. He'll get his opportunities, but don't count on him to provide fireworks on a nightly basis. 

Second Tier: Matt Costello

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    Matt Costello will be a target because of his size, which is perfect for the lob. 

    At 6'9" and 240 pounds, the sophomore's aggressive tendencies make him difficult to defend. Guards simply have to lob the ball down to Costello; he'll catch, go back up and come down with a dunk. It's that easy. 

    Costello isn't as quick and agile as others, so don't look for his finishes to be stylish. He gets the job done. Two points are two points. 

Second Tier: Alvin Ellis

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    If Alvin Ellis can dunk like he shoots, the Spartans may have another top-flight dunker on their hands. For now, the freshman shooting guard is tabbed as a second-tier guy because of the lack of dunk footage. 

    At 6'3" and 185 pounds, there's no doubt that Ellis has enough vertical to finish with one or two hands. He could have the springs for alley-oops. But again, he's a perimeter shooter who doesn't do a lot of dunking. 

     

    Honorable Mentions

    Travis Trice dunks...in practice. It's true, watch for yourself. At 5'10" (ahem), Trice can lay-up with the best of them. He's a pesky defender, too. Value. That's what you get with Trice. He hustles. No flash. All hard work and energy. 

    He's a good set-up guy, though. 

    Alex Gauna can dunk. Although he doesn't do it often, look for him to flush with similar style as Costello. Post dunkers. Not poster dunkers. There is a difference. 

     

    Dunker X?

    Gary Harris can't do everything, can he? Yes, actually, he can. Not known for his hammers in college, Harris threw a few down in high school. At 6'4", he can definitely elevate. However, his marksmanship overshadows his ability to dunk the ball. 

    Harris hasn't gotten aerial much at Michigan State. Now a sophomore, it's possible that he shows the other side to his already NBA-bound game. 

     

    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81