In basketball there are many meaningful stats from steals, to blocks and on to point scoring but if you ask an aspiring basketballer of the future what skill they want in their arsenal it’s the ability to land slam dunks.
With that in mind, here we look at the best dunkers in NBA history.
Number 5. Michael Jordan
It will definitely surprise a few that Michael Jordan only ranks at number five on our list of the best dunkers in NBA history; he is the greatest player to ever play the game after all. His dunking style almost seemed to see him float through the air before finishing with devastating effect.
Jordan entered the Slam Dunk Competition on a few occasions winning the contest in 1987 and 88. With Jordan’s ability as one of the best defensive players alongside his ability to rack up point after point, his dunking wasn’t something that stole the show but never forget he was a fantastic dunker. He proved it time and time again.
Number 4. Vince Carter
To any Toronto Raptors fans out there, Vince Carter being on this list isn’t a shock to you. Carter had such incredible dunking abilities; he was nicknamed ‘Air Canada’ while also being the face of the Raptors franchise for years before eventually leaving them for the Nets. Carter brought so much popularity to the team with his stellar dunking ability.
When the Slam Dunk Competition came around in 2000, that attention grew even larger. Carter dominated the contest so much that he refused to join another. Why? Well, he felt that he would disappoint people after the levels he reached in his first one.
Number 3. Dominique Wilkins
Next up in the best dunkers list is Dominique Wilkins or the ‘Human Highlight Reel’ as he was known throughout his time on the court. Wilkins wasn’t able to dominate the game in the same way someone like Jordan was but when it came to sinking dunks, he could stand up to the best of them. He competed in five different Slam Dunk Competitions and won two of them.
The wins came in 1985 and 1990. What made Wilkins, who was inducted to the hall of fame in 2006, such a fan favorite in the dunking department? Predominantly, it was his insane aerial acrobatics.
Number 2. Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp entered the league as the 17th draft pick in 1989 and arrived with minimal expectations. He didn’t do much throughout his rookie year but exploded in his second campaign. Kemp was quickly nicknamed the ‘Reign Man’ by the Supersonics announcers.
There is often a debate in sport about what measure should define the quality of a player with a lot of people settling on the trophy count. Well, Kemp decided to take his talents into the Slam Dunk Competition four times throughout his career. Somewhat surprisingly, he never won it. Just because he didn’t win it though it doesn’t mean he wasn’t a phenomenal dunker. It was his in-game slams that bring him towards the top of our list. That said, his mid-air bicycle ride dunk during one of those organised contests lives long in most people’s memory.
Number 1. Julius Erving
Julius ‘The Doctor’ Erving is the reason players attempt dunks from the free throw line. It seemed like he defied gravity every time he jumped into the air. He was able to leap from the free throw line and throw down a vicious dunk on an opponent time and time again.
It isn’t just that one trademark dunk that sees the 76ers legend top our list though. He also joined the Slam Dunk Competition (albeit in the ABA) and emerged victorious in 1976. Without Erving, it’s possible we wouldn’t see so many NBA players travel through the air for a dunk. He was an inspiration.
There you have it, the best dunkers in NBA history. If you follow the NBA, don’t forget to check the current odds and place your bets on TwinSpires Edge: https://edge.twinspires.com/nba/odds/