If you weren’t aware, the Oklahoma City Thunder have some good dunkers on the team. Jeff Green is one of the best in the league using his off-hand. Russell Westbrook is one of the angriest, most powerful dunkers out there. Kevin Durant’s so freaking long that I think he could dunk on a 15-foot goal. And James Harden’s sneaky, which makes his so fun.
Lately, we’ve seen some serious Thunder dunks. Westbrook’s destruction of Shane Battier and then Sunday’s annihilation of J.J. Hickson by the bearded one, James Harden. So naturally, people started talking about ranking the dunks we’ve seen over the past couple years from this insanely athletic and fun team. Which of course means, list time!
Because I’m a team player, I spent all morning on YouTube, perusing great dunks, trying to separate what makes one poster just a little bit better than the other. I was trying to figure out what takes a stuff to the next level. Is it style? Is it power? Is it the importance of it? Is it what it sparked? All factors in my mind.
So here you go – the top 10 Thunder dunks… EVER:
10. KD rakes and takes the Lakers
Kevin Durant’s a great dunker. Not the flashiest where he makes you go “OHHHHHH!!!!” but he’s a really good dunker. He’s so long and much more powerful at the rim than you think he is. KD doesn’t have a ton of great posters in his archives (I do like his one over Chris “The Birdman” Andersen mainly because The Birdman was talking a ton of junk and KD stuffed on him), but this one in Game 4 against the Lakers is a thing of beauty. The way he crosses in transition, takes one more dribble, two big strides and BOOM goes the dynamite. The dunk was really the statement play in the Game 4 rout of the Lakers and one of my favorite playoff moments.
9. Russell Westbrook soars over Mario Chalmers
You probably forgot about this one, didn’t you? We saw some of Westbrook’s spectacular transition dunks from when he was at UCLA, but this was really our baptism into the Westbrook world of dunking over people. Mario Chalmers was simply in the way of Westbrook and so Russ moved him. By dunking over him.
8. Martell Webster meets The Beard
Something about lefties dunking is just cool. And Harden’s plow of Martell Webster in Portland last season was definitely that. The dunk was nearly ruined by Brian Davis’ weird call of “A tiskit a tasket, there’s a defender in my basket,” but watch with the sound off and everything’s all good.
7. Jeff Green finishes the Hawks
Not to say this isn’t a great dunk – because it is – but I think the magnitude of it is what makes it top 10 material. Plus, the fact it was over one of the top shot blockers and posterizers in the game in Josh Smith makes it a little nicer. A classic Jeff Green play though. Late game, clutch moment, so of course Uncle Jeff makes a big play.
6. Dr. Nasty visits Toronto
I remember when this dunk happened, it actually made me jump a little bit. Just out of plain reflex, I hopped up. Putbacks always cool but often don’t get to the next level of great dunks. But Ibaka’s against Toronto was just excellent. I love the way he swings big on the rim and is in mid-Air Congo by the time he releases the rim. Style points, for sure.
5. OK, so it’s not actually a dunk
I can say without hesitation that if Westbrook somehow finished this dunk over Andrew Bynum, it would be the greatest ever. I have no doubt. It would be. And yes, while it’s not an actual dunk and this list is “Top 10 Dunks,” I don’t care. The effort is worth some acknowledgment. Plus, no one play can really sum up Russell Westbrook quite like this can. “Can’t” isn’t in his vocabulary.
4. I think James Harden also emotionally assaulted J.J. Hickson here
A tiskit, a tasket… just kidding. Harden’s reaction is maybe the best part. He knew how big it was. He knew just how nasty it was. He knew that he’d just humiliated J.J. Hickson, his family and all of his closest friends.
3. Hi there Shane Battier
This dunk was so good that it even made a Rockets player jump off the bench in excitement. Plus, you’ve got to love Battier’s expression running back down the court. Dang, I’ll be seeing that the rest of my career. Westbrook unleashed the poster we all knew he was capable of, and it was terrific. The thing is, I think Russ can do even better than that. I don’t think we’ve gotten The Ultimate Russell Westbrook dunk yet. The definite Russ stuff is coming. And I can’t wait for it. (Brian Davis really is pretty good at calling an awesome dunk. His unbridled enthusiasm really comes through best after a play that makes us all scream “OHH!” I love the “Uncoiling! Like a SNAKE!”)
2.Watson to Westbrook and on Belinelli.
It pains me greatly to know that Earl Watson is included in this top 10 list. But that should tell you just how great this dunk is. You can see it coming the whole way. Golden State’s color announcer saw it. Watson had Westbrook trailing and knew exactly what he wanted to do. And of course, poor Marco Belinelli. Way to get back on defense, I guess.
1. Russell Westbrook lights the Ford Center on fire
Out of all the things that make a dunk great – importance, excitement, coolness, etc – this one qualifies. Not only did Westbrook’s cram on Lamar Odom spark an 8-0 run that tied Game 3 against the Lakers, but it really sent the Oklahoma City crowd into a rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy. Westbrook was so quick to the hoop, TNT wasn’t even able to get totally cut back to the action to see it. But Westbrook had his mind made up after he crossed left that he was going to send the ball through the hoop. And he did. With a little emphasis.