With All-Star weekend coming up, a common topic to debate is always the best dunk contests of all time. The slam dunk has many forms, where it can be a soft dunk that’s essentially dropping the ball into the net, a finesse dunk that looks extra fancy, or a simple poster where a defender is completely humiliated.
The art of the dunk in a contest differs the art in game. Opposed to a contest when players have plenty of time to create an idea, practice, and then execute in front of an arena full of fans (or hopefully execute, remember Chris Andersen?), in game dunks give the player a split second to analyze the situation, make the decision, and make sure that their body executes well.
No. 5 – Donovan Mitchell splits the lane
In this dunk, Mitchell, who was drafted number 13 in the 2007 draft, gets a pick from Jonas Jerebko. The Kings defenders (Buddy Hield and Kosta Koufos) attempt to trap him at the top outside the perimeter, but don’t close the gap. Mitchell splits the gap, takes two quick dribbles, and explodes to the rack from the dotted line. The dunk had crazy extension, power, and a landing that says that he knows he just did something special.
No. 4 – Terrance Ferguson hurts himself
In this game, the OKC Thunder are well on their way to an easy W with just less than 6 minutes left. It’s full garbage time and fans in Staples are in for a treat. They probably didn’t know who this kid was before the night, but they’ll definitely remember him. Off a steal, Felton leads the break and gives Ferguson a bounce pass which he smashes through the rim. The word “smash” was chosen very carefully here as he’s seen holding his wrist after the dunk. Easy glide through the air and lots of power behind it, Ferguson shows us that he wants in the Dunk Contest this year.
No. 3 – De’Aaron Fox for the win
This dunk was just really impressive. It’s easy to show that you’ve got hops when the lane opens up, or if you’re on a breakaway. It’s really different to have a monstrous put-back slam with 3 seconds left on the clock. That’s exactly what Fox did, after the Bogdanovic miss. He came in from the wing perimeter position, and just glided right of Dragic for a two handed putback slam to win the game for the Kings. Now if you don’t like that, you don’t like NBA basketball.
No. 2 – Andrew Wiggins going Back to Back
I’m sure even Drake likes Wiggins going b2b against the Raptors in Minnesota. Wiggins, who is often criticized for not showing a lot of emotion, completely hammers it down on Jakob Poeltl twice in the first half of their first meeting this year. In the first one, he just beats his defender off the dribble and soars over Poeltl at the rim. In the second dunk, he gets the ball off a pick and roll, side steps, and then explodes on Poeltl, making this a double whammy.
No. 1 – Embiid mean mugging
Joel Embiid is possibly the NBA’s funniest follower on social media. From his antics of trying to hit on Rihanna over Twitter, to now chirping his opponents (and father’s of opponents) on Instagram, Embiid continues to amuse his fans and reminds them to #TrustTheProcess. In this dunk, Embiid pump funks a three that makes Steven Adams bite (showing Embiid’s versatility that a really good defender would actually jump at a pump fake), takes two dribbles towards the net, and then jams it over reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, while gliding through the air at a 45 degree angle. Versatility, smooth, elevation, and down right attitude give Embiid the dunk of the month for January.