While blocks, 3-pointers and buzzer beaters are nice, they’ll never get your picture on a poster, they’ll rarely give you trash-talk fodder and they sure as hell won’t get people talking at the barber shop.
On the other hand, slam dunks are the stuff that highlight champions are made of - the plays that make you go “ooh” every time you see them.
That’s why this article is going to look at the Top 10 dunks of the first half of the 2010-11 season. We’re doing it before the Slam Dunk contest because we want them to be from in-game competition. A spur-of-the-moment dunk, not some pre-planned, 15-attempt slamfoolery.
Now, on to the jams:
10. Rajon Rondo brings the heat to Miami
Rajon Rondo is better known for his ability to pass, but on this play he keeps it all for himself. Rondo got a clear path to the basket and put it home with some one-handed authority. The dunk also came during a stretch where the Heat were struggling on defense. Don’t believe me? Just watch Chris Bosh “contest” the shot.
9. Eric Gordon tomahawks the Spurs
While Blake Griffin is getting all the hype for his dunks, he’s not the only one pumping out highlights in Clipperville. Eric Gordon’s thunderous dunk may win the award for the most vicious slam of the season. San Antonio Spurs rookie James Anderson was helpless as Gordon took one dribble, brought it way back and put it down hard...sending himself to the floor in the process.
8. Nene leads the fast break
Big men are supposed to get the rebound, outlet the ball and hope they get the rock back for the finish. Denver Nuggets center Nene decides to skip the middle man and take it coast-to-coast himself for the slam. The play develops in what seems to be slow motion, but at the end Nene did his best Dr. J impression, going with the mini-windmill before slamming it down over Oklahoma City’s Jeff Green.
7. LeBron James scorches the Suns
Now what kind of top-dunk list would this be if it didn’t include King James? LeBron James may have taken his talents to South Beach, but it hasn’t stopped him from frequenting the highlight reel. He makes the list here by splitting two sets of Phoenix Suns defenders and slamming it home with three seconds left in the first half. James also threw in a mini double-pump, just to add more style.
6. Derrick Rose rocks some two-handed magic
Chicago Bulls stud point guard Derrick Rose showed off all his athletic tools in throwing one down against the Knicks. First Rose blew by New York point guard Toney Douglas, then he took off one step into the paint and he finished by pulling the ball way behind his head and finishing with a classic two-handed tomahawk. Kudos to Danilo Gallinari for his feeble attempt at blocking a guy seven inches shorter than him.
5. Russell Westbrook lifts off against Houston
Little men with big-time ups seems to be the theme this season, as Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook gets airborne once again. Westbrook has had his share of highlight dunks, but this one stands out because he started from the right side of the rim, but finished from the left. Bonus points for stuffing it in the face of Rockets defender Shane Battier.
4. Blake Griffin spin and slam
Blake Griffin doesn’t just rebound, block shots and jump real high – he can dribble too. In one of his most highlight-filled games of the year, Griffin picks the ball up at half-court, dribbles it down and pulls a nasty spin move, again on New York Knick Danilo Gallinari. Then he finishes it off by throwing it down in Gallo’s face. The scary thing is it isn’t even Griffin’s best dunk of that game.
3. Wilson Chandler goes up-and-under
Wilson Chandler made a name for himself in the NBA with his ability to get to the hoop and finish. This season he has an improved shooting touch, but he goes back to his bread-and-butter on this dunk. Chandler squeaks out from the corner and is greeted by Washington Wizards block machine JaVale McGee. The Knicks’ swingman goes under the rim and throws down a one-handed reverse, right in McGee’s face.
2. J.R. Smith beats the buzzer on the Spurs
This dunk has everything one could hope for in a highlight. The Nuggets’ high-flyer dunked it with 0.6 seconds left in the half. He crossed-over George Hill. He took off from just inside the foul line. The two hands held high as he soared through the air. And poor Gary Neal just getting embarrassed as he hits the floor. This has all the elements to be the dunk of the year, but...
1. Blake Griffin posterizes Timofey Mozgov
Blake Griffin takes the gold for getting all up in the face of New York Knicks center Timofey Mozgov. This dunk evokes memories of Vince Carter’s leap-frog dunk on French center (and former Knicks draft pick) Frederic Weis in the 2000 Summer Olympics. While the fact that Griffin gets his crotch up to Mozgov’s face is impressive enough, the more astonishing feat is that Griffin was actually stopped short of the rim. With Mozgov providing contact, Griffin just threw his hand on the Russian rookie’s face and literally had to throw the ball through the hoop. Nasty.