NBA Poster Child: Blake Griffin and His 20 Best Dunks of the Year (So Far)
Everyone (except the late, great John Wooden) loves a great dunk, and no one has done it with as much frequency and flair this season as Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin.
The 6'10", 250-pound power forward out of Oklahoma came into the NBA with a reputation as a high-flier who can throw down thunderous dunks at any and every opportunity.
Well, after a year off following major knee surgery, Griffin has not only lived up to the expectations, but shattered them like a glass backboard. His averages of 20.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game are easily the best of any rookie thus far in the 2010-11 season and place him firmly in the conversation to represent the Clips in the 2011 All-Star Game at the team's home gym.
While Griffin may not be an absolute shoe-in to be picked for the game, given the glut of talent at power forward in the West, he will undoubtedly be around to make a splash at the annual Slam Dunk Contest.
For those who have yet to get a scouting report on what Griffin is capable of in the air, and even for those who are well-versed, here's a look at the Poster Child's top 20 dunks in the NBA so far.
Which one do you think is the best?
20. Blake Griffin's First NBA Basket vs. Portland Trailblazers, October 27
Not a bad way to start an NBA career.
The list begins right where Blake Griffin began–with his first-ever regular season NBA dunk on his first-ever regular season NBA basket.
The Trailblazers must have thought they'd see some athleticism from Griffin, but no one could have anticipated that kind of explosion, on a one-handed alley-oop dunk, no less.
And to think it would only get more redunkulous from there.
19. Griffin Cleans Up Over Al Jefferson vs. Utah Jazz, November 28
Blake Griffin doesn't just take out his garbage; he throws it down!
The Utah Jazz, one of Portland's Northwest Division foes, got a taste of Blake Griffin's strength and nastiness in late November, albeit in a loss for the Clippers.
Here, Griffin proves, as he has on many occasions, that he doesn't need a pinpoint pass or a devastating dribble to stuff one through, especially if no one boxes him out.
Jazz center Al Jefferson learned that lesson the hard way.
18. Blake Griffin Shows OKC How to Finish a Fast Break, November 3
Any questions, pupils?
Few would suggest that Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, one of the NBA's great young players, needs anyone to teach him how to finish on a fast break.
As this clip demonstrates, Griffin didn't wait for Westy to ask before showing him how it's done with a one-handed, tomahawk slam on the other end.
Those of you with NBA aspirations, take note.
17. Griffin Gives Sacramento Kings the Royal Treatment, December 6
Nothing like a Matador defense to add to Blake's highlight reel.
Speaking of tomahawks, check out this strong-hand slam by Blake "the Snake" against the Sacramento Kings.
Watch as the players in purple part the seas for a Clipper coronation from Griffin.
Says Blake on the play, "I dub thee POSTERIZED!"
16. Bulls Can't Block Blake From Blast in Chicago, December 18
No wonder the Bulls miss Joakim Noah so much.
The Clippers pulled off their biggest win of the year thus far by shocking the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, 100-99.
And, as one might expect, Blake Griffin had himself a big game, going for 29 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Here are two of his finer points from that game, coming on yet another spectacular catch-and-slam.
Watch and learn, Derrick Rose.
15. Blake Griffin Posterizes Portland Trailblazers, December 5
Blake prefers to blaze his own trails, thanks.
One of these days, opposing teams will learn to put a body on Blake Griffin on missed shots.
And boy, have there been plenty of those in Clipperland this season.
Video coordinators need look no further for evidence than LA's first trip to Portland this season, during which Blake slashed in from the perimeter for combination offensive rebound and dunk.
Well, at least the Blazers boxed out Chris Kaman.
14. Blake Finishes Break Led by Big Men vs. Spurs, November 1
Chris Kaman can't finish like that.
Not that Chris Kaman isn't a capable offensive player in his own right. Watch here as Blake Griffin pokes the ball away on defense toward Kaman, who takes a dribble before passing the ball back to Blake for another fantastic fast break finish.
Just the first of several breathtaking dunks by Griffin in the Clips' shocking victory over the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs to start the month of December.
13. Spurs Watch as Griffin Backs Up DeAndre Jordan, December 1
Blake Griffin always has his teammates' backs.
Like I said, Blake Griffin had a number of terrific dunks in LA's home win over San Antonio.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had some trouble finishing against the Spurs frontcourt of DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan, but Blake was right there to back him up with righteous fury.
And a sick slam.
12. Blake Griffin Jump-Stops to the Cup vs. Sacramento Kings, November 25
Simple as hop, skip, and dunk for Blake Griffin.
The jump stop has been a part of the game of basketball for decades, yet few NBA players ever exercise this effective move these days, at least without being called for traveling.
Here, Blake Griffin demonstrates the lost art of the jump stop to perfection, summoning his early days in the game of basketball by absolutely embarrassing fellow rookie DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.
Also, pay attention to Griffin's use of the head fake, yet another fundamental yet seldom-used skill that Griffin makes such beautiful use of.
11. Eric Gordon Feeds Beast to the Basket at Minnesota, November 17
Too little credit is given to Blake Griffin's teammates for his outstanding play this season, particularly Baron Davis and Eric Gordon.
As demonstrated here, Gordon always seems to know when and where to get the ball to Blake.
Or at least that would seem to be the case if all you watch of the Clippers' and Griffin's highlight reels.
Either way, enjoy this beautiful Gordon-to-Griffin feed in traffic.
10. Another Baron-to-Blake Special vs. Orlando Magic, December 12
Yes, that's an alley-oop connection from half-court.
Not to be outdone, Baron Davis has his fair share of remarkable assists on Blake Griffin jams.
Not that Davis has done much else for the Clippers this season, other than get heckled by owner Donald Sterling during games.
Clearly, Davis knows how to throw a pinpoint alley for Griffin to oop, as he does here from beyond half court against the Orlando Magic.
Superman Dwight Howard could only watch and wonder to himself, "Can I do that?"
9. Griffin Steals and Twists His Way to the Cup Against Detroit, November 12
One step, two step, drop step, dunk step!
Strength, athleticism and leaping ability aside, Blake Griffin's greatest asset may just be his incredible body control. Few people his size, much less basketball players, can twist and contort their bodies in mid-air quite like Griffin can.
That talent certainly comes in handy in the NBA, where Griffin has found himself twisting and turning around defenders on a routine basis.
Before we get carried away, let's not forget about his speed and anticipation, which make this dumbfounding dunk against the Detroit Pistons possible in the first place.
8. Tim Duncan Takes Lumps From Blake, December 1
Past, present and future collide.
I wasn't kidding when I said Blake Griffin had a whole highlight reel's worth of dunks against the Spurs.
Tim Duncan may be one of the great defensive big men of all time, but there was little he could do to stop Griffin on this one.
Duncan and his Spurs teammates must have had visions of David Robinson as Griffin soared in for this one, though its maliciousness disqualifies Griffin from an Admiral salute.
7. Lakers Frontcourt Gets the Griffin Treatment, December 8
Pau and Lamar, meet Blake. He's your neighbor now.
Blake Griffin's introduction to the Los Angeles "rivalry" was a heartbreaker for the Clippers thanks to a buzzer-beating lay-up by Derek Fisher to give the Lakers an 87-86 victory in what was technically a road game.
Speaking of technicalities, this Blake Griffin dunk over the backs of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol didn't count for any points, as Griffin was called for an offensive foul on the play, but it's rather impressive nonetheless.
Perhaps someday, Griffin will get to know what it means to posterize the Purple and Gold in a winning effort.
6. Blake Brings the Thunder Against Oklahoma City, November 3
I'm pretty sure that kind of abuse is illegal.
Patience, it turns out, is a virtue, in basketball as well as life.
Blake Griffin understands this idea full well, as seen here against Oklahoma City. Watch closely as Griffin dribbles patiently into the post until OKC's Jeff Green gives way, allowing Blake to bring the lightning strike down on the Thunder.
Nenad Krstic could not have been more disappointed in his teammate Green for letting him get embarrassed by a high-flier like Griffin.
5. Griffin Leaps Over Knicks for Long-Armed Slam, November 20
How do you defend someone who can jump clear over you?
This particular dunk would probably be the most spectacular of a career for just about any other player in the NBA.
For Blake Griffin, it's merely the fifth-most impressive of his first 30 games as a professional baller.
Pay attention to the "artful" way in which Griffin, like shampoo, uses Timofey Mozgov's head and shoulders to lift himself closer to an impossibly spectacular throw-in dunk.
Mozgov may not be an intimidating force in the middle, but the Knicks center is a legitimate 7'1", mind you.
Griffin here makes him look like nothing more than a hurdle on a rubberized track.
4. Griffin Uses Hands, Hops to Get to the Hoop vs. Timberwolves, December 20
Alley-oops are great, but this catch-and-slam is just ridiculous.
The Clippers may be anything but a good team, but at least they're better than the Minnesota Timberwolves...
Right? They are, aren't they?
Ah heck, at least LA has Blake Griffin, who makes Corey Brewer, a terrific athlete in his own right, look like a chump on this half court connection with Baron Davis.
On top of that, give Griffin a 10 for finishing with a twist on the rim and sticking the landing.
3. Blake Goes Baseline With Two-Handed Reverse vs. San Antonio, December 1
Now if only he could reverse the Clipper curse that easily...
Anyone else notice how many of these Blake Griffin slams have earned the distinction of NBA.com Dunk of the Night?
As previously discussed, the rambunctious rookie ran roughshod over the Spurs to start the month of December, with this two-handed, baseline, reverse jam being the most impressive of his posterizations that night.
That's assuming, of course, that posterization can be considered an actual word, with or without Merriam-Webster's approval.
2. Twirl to the Twine for Griffin Against New York, November 20
Poor Danilo Gallinari didn't have a chance.
Blake Griffin demonstrates just about all of his remarkable abilities on this single play against the Knicks.
He reaches down low to pick up an errant pass while on the run, steadies his dribble, then, at the free throw line, goes into a spin move and finishes by climbing the ladder for (you guessed it!) a dunk, this time over Danilo Gallinari.
But you don't need me to tell you that. Just push play and observe.
I dare you to keep your jaw from dropping to the floor.
And don't forget to check out Knicks star Amar'e Stoudemire's reaction (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqs0Zf_TJ2c).
1. Blake Skies for the Alley-Oop Against the Rockets, December 22
Watch your head, Blake!
Griffin's spin-jam was definitely the best dunk of his young career, at least until the Houston Rockets came to town.
The Clippers took over for a short stretch in the first quarter with a veritable jam-fest, with some spectacular slams by DeAndre Jordan.
Like clockwork, Blake Griffin jumped in on the fun, starting the fast break with a steal, passing it off to fellow Clipper rookie Eric Bledsoe, and getting it right back for his NBA-best 67th dunk of the season.
And this one was, indeed, the NBA's best. Not only does Griffin nearly strangle himself on the rim with this one, he just about rubs his armpit all over it.
It's only a matter of time until his people start hearing from Old Spice about being a spokesman.