NBA Report Card: Grading The NBA Dunk Contest Entrants
At the NBA All-Star Weekend, the premier event that is not the actual game itself is the dunk contest, which this season features Blake Griffin, JaVale McGee, Serge Ibaka and Brandon Jennings.
The dunk contest this year features three players over 6-10 and one guy that barely cracks six feet tall.
It has been one of the most exciting events that basketball has had to offer since the days of Julius Erving in the ABA and clear through the 80s with Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins to its resurgence in the 00s with Jason Richardson, Vince Carter, Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson.
This contest will be continuing the trend of big men against little men, as it has created exciting dunk contests in the past three seasons.
This year we are sure to see everything from some high flying dunks with Ibaka, to finesse from McGee, power from Griffin, and some little-guy heroics from Jennings.
Here, I would like to take a look at each player, showcase some of their best dunks that we have seen from them in their careers so far, and determine a winner from what they have done in the past.
Blake Griffin: Dunk Number One
For each player, I tried to find a dunk from a previous dunk contest to show off their creativity given time to prepare, and a live-game dunk to show off their ability to dunk on the fly.
Here, we have a very impressive dunk from Griffin, who gets a perfect bounce betwen his legs, turns around, catches it, pulls up for a nice little windmill, and slams it home.
It's creative, difficult, flashy, and impressive all at the same time.
The craziest part about this dunk is that he did it in high school, and since then, he has become more athletic and more powerful.
Given the months to prepare, and his ever-increasing ability, you had better bet that Griffin is going to pull something amazing out of his bag of tricks for this dunk contest.
Dunk No. 1 score: 48/50
Serge Ibaka: Dunk Number One
There is a lot that we don't yet know about Serge Ibaka.
He has had some great dunks in the NBA up to this point, but he has been no Blake Griffin or Dwight Howard so far.
He gets his minutes and he gets a good dunk every once in a while, but the best we can do with Ibaka is wonder at what he can do on the open floor with no defenders in his way.
Until then, we have this excellent alley-oop dunk over Richard Jefferson that is nothing short of ferocious.
Dunk No. 1 score: 45/50
Brandon Jennings: Dunk Number One
This dunk is at 22 seconds.
Brandon Jennings only has two in-game dunks this season in the NBA, and neither of them are too spectacular. But, when he gets in the open floor, watch out, because he can rise up.
Here, Jennings takes the ball, takes off, reaches waaaayyy back, and slams it home.
He does all of this while taking off from a good distance out and getting up high enough, while standing at only 6-1 to throw it down with some power.
Brandon Jennings has had some dunks in the past that make him look like a mixture of Nate Robinson and Jason Richardson, so the expectations for him are high right now.
Dunk No. 1 score: 47/50
JaVale McGee: Dunk Number One
Anytime you do something that Michael Jordan did, and make it look halfway as sweet as he did, then you know it's going to be good.
Here, McGee gets the ball on a fast break, and with nobody around him but the referee, he decides to put on a show.
He takes the ball from the right wing, tucks it in like a baby, rocks it around, puts it to sleep, and abruptly slams it home.
I can't tell you the last time I saw anyone pull off this dunk as nice as MJ did, and this is darn close.
Dunk No. 1 score: 49/50
Blake Griffin: Dunk Number Two
Okay, if you want to be technical about it, it's not really a dunk because he hurled it through the rim, it's more of a thrunk. But if the Dwight Howard "Superman" thrunk from the 2008 Dunk Contest is considered a dunk, then this is too.
In this dunk, Griffin rears back, bolts upright, nearly springs over the 7-1 Timofey Mozgov and throws it down with such ferocity that Mozgov was so ashamed that he went on to score only 23 points over the next two months.
If this weren't a game-time dunk, Griffin would have time to set up, get a running start, and would probably be able to clear Mozgov a la Vince Carter over Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics.
Given the emotion, anger, and all-out power that Griffin threw this one down with, I have no choice but to give the man a 50 on this dunk.
Dunk No. 2 score: 50/50
Serge Ibaka: Dunk Number Two
This is by far the most annoying video I have found of a dunk, but the dunk in question here is the second of the two, that is the darker of the two.
In this dunk, Ibaka is coming down on a two-on-one fast break with his teammate, who throws it off the backboard.
Ibaka then leaps, catches the pass over the big white dude and slams it home to bring the whole backboard to a turbulent shaking fit.
It has been rumored that Ibaka has dunked from the free-throw line in international play, which wouldn't surprise me, and if he can do that in the dunk contest, there is no reason to think that he can win.
Dunk No. 2 score: 47/50
Brandon Jennings: Dunk Number Two
This is the grainiest of grainy videos, but it is Brandon Jennings, and it is the classic Vince Carter, between-the-legs dunk.
First, one of the most impressive things here is that he takes off flat-footed, and gets enough hang time to do the dunk that he did.
He then does the now-classic between-the-legs dunk that always gets the crowd excited.
Brandon Jennings can win the dunk contest if he can do exciting, explosive dunks like this.
Dunk No. 2 score: 50/50
JaVale McGee: Dunk Number Two
Here, JaVale McGee just flies.
This was the dunk of the Summer League this year, and is easily one of the top five dunks in the history of the Summer League.
McGee gets the pass, sees an open lane and absolutely demolishes his opponent, and in true dunk contest fashion, we get a reaction shot from his momma going crazy.
McGee is the go big or go home candidate, he will try something insane, and if it works he will probably win, if not, he probably won't.
Dunk No. 2 score: 47/50
Harry How/Getty Images
Blake Griffin: 98/100
Griffin is the favorite heading in, as he has had some of the most thunderous dunks of the year this season.
If he can combine power with creativity, he should end up winning the contest
JaVale McGee: 97/100
McGee will be a high-risk high-reward dunker in this year's contest.
I get the feeling that he will try something never-before-seen, as he has tried a free throw line dunk in a game already (and failed miserably) but he could end up doing something that puts his name on the map and gets people talking for the next few years.
Brandon Jennings: 97/100
Jennings will put up some of the most unbelievable dunks just because of his height, but with Nate Robinson getting people used to little guys dunking, he'll have to take it to another level to win.
He has the ability to do something amazing, he just needs to uncork something awesome to win this one.
Serge Ibaka: 92/100
Ibaka is going to be the dark horse candidate in the dunk contest this year. Nobody knows much about him as he has been overseas for most of his career, and the usual rumors have floated over the pond to us here in America.
If the rumors that he can make a free throw line dunk are true, then he could win this thing. But, right now there just isn't enough known about him.