Sports are full of entertaining and breathtaking moments, but there is perhaps no more exciting play than a ferocious and athletic slam dunk. A great dunk has the potential to not only energize and fire up the team and intimidate the opponent, but can also ignite a crowd into a furious frenzy of cheering.
The slam dunk has been an instrumental play ever since its inception into the NBA in the 50’s/60s. By the time the 1970s rolled around, the slam dunk was standard fare in the NBA and was an extremely popular play in the eyes of the fans and players alike. Throughout the decades and decades that the slam dunk has been a popular play, there have been hundreds and hundreds of players that have perfected the art of the slam dunk. Players of all shapes and sizes have perfected the art of the dunk, as there are players who are under 6 feet tall (Nate Robinson) and almost 7 feet tall (DeAndre Jordan), who often put up highlight reel dunks.
There are many “types” of slam dunks that players can be known for. Some players, notably guards and forwards, are known for their athletic and high flying jams while bigger forwards and centers are known for vicious and powerful dunks that rattle the rim. Of course, there exists a short list of players that are capable of both types of dunks, but most stick to what they know best.
It’s a well-known fact that a large majority of the players in the NBA are capable of dunking, so the act in itself isn’t that impressive. However, there are a select few players that seem to constantly be making headlines for their great dunks. This list will take a look at those players as it looks to highlight the Top 15 Dunkers in the NBA Today.
15 K.J. McDaniels
K.J. McDaniels is likely the least known player on this list, but rest assured, his dunks are spectacular. As a rookie with the 76ers/Rockets in the 2014-15 season, McDaniels made a name for himself with those fan bases for his extreme athleticism and hops on both the defensive and offensive end. “McSlamiels,” as he has been touted, is quickly garnering attention from NBA fans for his alley-oop jams and knack for finding the rim. He is a rare breed of both power and athleticism that gives his dunks more “attitude” than most NBA players.
14 Giannis Antetokounmpo
“The Greek Freak,” as he is commonly known, is one of the most high-potential players in the NBA. After coming into the NBA at 6’9", he has already grown to almost sevem feet tall with a wingspan of around seven and a half feet. These measurables make him one of the most impressive dunkers in the NBA today. With that wingspan, paired with his athletic ability and quickness, Giannis is capable of performing dunks that are simply impossible for others who don’t share the same physical blessings. We are looking forward to seeing his growth continue and see him continue to mature as a player.
13 Nate Robinson
Despite his best years likely being behind him, Nate Robinson is still one of the most awe-inspiring dunkers in the league today. At only 5’9", the things Nate Robinson can do with a basketball in his hands almost look like magic. Nate Robinson was the first and only player in NBA history to win three slam dunk contests. Robinson’s vertical jump and tremendous leg strength are two of the main reasons why he, as such as small man, is able to dunk with authority. Even though you don’t hear much about him anymore, as he's currently a free agent, you would be hard pressed to find a more entertaining dunker in the NBA today.
12 Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes was once touted as the next, great superstar to come out of UNC. Despite failing to live up to those lofty expectations, Barnes has made a name for himself in the NBA as a ferocious and talented dunker. This reputation stems from a night in Novemeber 2012, when Barnes was a rookie with the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves came to town. Late in the second quarter, Barnes received a pass on the run and threw down one of the absolute biggest dunks you will ever see, right over T-Wolves big man, Nikola Pekovic. This dunk was on every sports highlight reel for months and propelled Barnes’ dunking into the forefront.
11 Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo is another under the radar addition to this list, but he can fly. The Orlando Magic guard's reputation as a high flyer dates back to his days as a college player at Indiana. Despite only being 6’4", Oladipo has no fear when going for dunks and has had some huge posterizations over players much bigger than him, including Lebron James. Oladipo, who has also competed in one dunk contest, also has a love for the 360 dunk, as he's pulled it off various times in both college and in the NBA.
10 Kenneth Faried
“The Manimal,” as he is affectionately known throughout NBA circles, is without a doubt one of the most powerful and ferocious dunkers in the NBA today, as his intensity and drive make him a fan favorite with the Denver Nuggets. He is a power forward that exhibits the speed, agility and quickness of a small forward, which allows him to pull off highlight reel dunks with more power and intensity than almost anyone else in the NBA today. Faried loves the one hand tomahawk dunk and has posterized many opponents throughout his career.
9 Andrew Wiggins
As the 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year winner, Wiggins has much more to his game than just dunking, but that is without a doubt one of the most famous aspects of his game. Despite only just turning 20, Wiggins has already proven to be one of the best and most fearless dunkers in the league. He is an athletic freak with a very lanky frame that helps him soar through the air. In his rookie year, Wiggins proved he was right at home in the NBA and not afraid when he challenged numerous big men at the rim, and won most of the battles.
8 Gerald Green
Gerald Green and mind-blowing dunks go hand in hand, and they have for years. Gerald Green has been one of the best dunkers in the NBA for a while and has still not lost his step, despite him being a seven year NBA veteran. He has too many fantastic dunks to count, ranging from windmills, to tomahawks, to self alley-oops. Green has been a journeyman throughout his career, and has played for numerous teams, but one thing that has stayed with him throughout his years in the NBA is his ability to throw it down with the best of them.
7 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is not only among the best players and scorers in the NBA today, he is also one of the best dunkers. Durant has a skillset unlike almost anyone else in NBA history, as his rare and unique mix of size, speed, athletic ability and tenacity make him well equipped to be one of the best dunkers, because few can do what he can do when the ball is in his hands. Durant is often seen using his lanky and quick 6’9" frame to launch for dunks from just inside the free throw line.
6 Terrence Ross
Despite his name not getting mentioned as much as many of his peers on this list, Terrence Ross is 100% deserving of a high spot on this list. He has been a high flying dunker for the entirety of his career and has been wowing crowds all across the league. The former Slam Dunk Contest winner is igniting fans in Canada in a way that hasn’t been done since Vince Carter was still in town. At only 24 years old, Terrence Ross has many more years of dazzling fans left in him.
5 Lebron James
If this list was from five years ago, there would be no argument that Lebron James would be at the top of it. At 30 years old, Lebron James might not be able to get up like he used to, but he's still among the premier dunkers in the NBA today. Lebron is perhaps the perfect mix of finesse and power, as he is capable of both athletic windmills and ferocious slams. Despite his rep as one of the best dunkers in the modern history of the NBA, he has still never participated in a Dunk Contest, much to the dismay of fans everywhere.
4 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook might be the most powerful and savage point guard dunker of all time. The type of intensity, passion and violence that goes into his dunks is not something normally seen in point guards, especially in today’s NBA. Point Guards are normally passers who can put up a decent shot, but don’t usually play above the rim very often. Westbrook has absolutely flipped that notion on its head. He shows no fear when attacking the rim and will go up against anybody. He is without a doubt one of the most exciting players in the league to watch.
3 DeAndre Jordan
Coming in at number three on the list is DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is without a doubt the biggest and strongest player on this list, and it shows in his dunks. Normally, when centers dunk, it is just a simply under the basket dunk for two points, but not Jordan. DeAndre Jordan dunks like a 6’5" guard in a seven footer's body. He flies through the air, collects alley-oops and drop thunderous jams on his opponents. In 2014-15, he had the highest FG percentage in the league (by a wide margin), which without a doubt was due to the large number of dunks he throws down.
2 Blake Griffin
You cannot watch a highlight reel of NBA plays within the last five years without seeing Blake Griffin. Griffin is an extremely well rounded and talented player, but it was his dunks that without a doubt put his name on the map and made him the household name that he is today. Griffin has some of the absolute best dunks of all time, both in terms of power and in terms of athleticism. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone who throws down harder dunks than Blake Griffin in the history of the NBA.
1 Zach LaVine
Coming in as the best dunker in the NBA today is none other than Zach LaVine. This may come as a surprise to some, but if you saw his performance at this year’s dunk contest, there is little argument to be made about this selection. He is perhaps the highest jumper in the NBA today, as he has an unreal 46 inch vertical jump. His unbelievable vertical, paired with his reach and body control, makes him capable of performing dunks that others can only dream of. Just watch his performance in the Slam Dunk Contest. You’ll thank us.