By Matthew Budkofsky
This weekend, Zach LaVine put on one of the best dunk contest performances in a long, long time. LaVine received a perfect score on 3 of his 4 dunks and dazzled the crowd by executing breath-taking dunks with ease. But was LaVine really going up against the best the NBA has to offer? Absolutely not. The league has struggled to get superstars to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest. Blake Griffin was really the last stud to put on a real show back when he jumped over a car in 2011. So, now the question is which 4 players would create the best, most competitive slam-dunk contest? Let me answer that for you right now.
Westbrook is one of the best athletes in the league right now, and is probably the best overall athlete to play the point guard position ever. If you watched the All-Star game this past weekend, you probably saw Westbrook hit his head on the backboard throwing down an alley-oop en route to winning MVP of the game. Russell stands at 6”4’ which also adds some intrigue because dunks are always a little more impressive when a shorter player executes them. Personally, I would love to see what Russ could do in the dunk contest. This video is just a taste of what he would bring to the table: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QX59NsUnmY
This past summer, Wiggins took over the NBA Combine when a picture of him testing out his vertical leap was revealed. Here were the results. http://www.hoopsfix.com/2014/05/pic-of-the-day-andrew-wiggins-can-jump-really-high/
That’s right. Wiggins’s maximum vertical reached 44 inches. For some perspective, teammate and dunk champion Zach LaVine only reached 41 inches during the combine. Wiggins did actually make an appearance in this year’s dunk contest, but he was only there to help LaVine. Wiggins is only 19 years old, so there is a very real possibility that we will see him compete in the future, and boy would it be a treat. One can only imagine all of the things he could do with the time he has in the air.
So I know you saw what happened this past Saturday night when LaVine stole the show at the Barclays Center. It was amazing. Comparisons have been drawn between LaVine’s performance and Vince Carter’s performance in the 2000 dunk contest. That’s pretty high praise for a rookie. LaVine stands at just 6”5’, but it doesn’t matter how tall he is because his dunks are impressive nonetheless. Like Wiggins, LaVine is a rookie, and is also only 19 years old. That means that we could be seeing LaVine again if he chooses to defend his title. Like I said before, Zach was by no means dunking against the best dunkers in the NBA, but Zach could very well be the best dunker in the league right now. When LaVine was throwing down his dunks the other night, he was still on his way up! He easily could have hit his head on the rim. Furthermore, he did his first two dunks on his very first try, which elevates the status of the dunk even further. LaVine’s performance was exactly what the league needed, and I hope he chooses to compete for many years to come.
Over the past few seasons, Blake Griffin has been evolving his game in order to become a more complete player, rather than someone who scores all of his points of dunks. Many people, myself included, have forgotten the fact that in the past Griffin was doing things like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VN5yO3wHQzM on a regular basis. If you still don’t believe me, ask Timofey Mozgov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPzIHdZQAj4
Whether it is an actual dunk or just a throw down it doesn’t matter; his athletic ability is incredible. He is a guy that doesn’t need to be smaller for his dunks to be impressive. Griffin has already won a Slam-Dunk title, but there is no reason he shouldn’t want another one. I would love to see what Griffin could come up with if he had another chance.
Obviously there are some high flyers that had to be left off this list. If you disagree with me, that’s fine, but drop a comment below and let me know what you think!