Basketball

Top 20 Dunkers in NBA History

By James Caricato - April 16, 2019

Everyone wants to dunk. It’s arguably the biggest staple in basketball. Kids in grade school are lowering their basketball hoop on the drive way to 6 feet so they can practice windmills and 360s.

Dunkers like Dr. J, Vince Carter, and now LeBron James and Zach Levine have changed the game. The evolution of dunking and the evolution of the NBA run parallel with one another

Over the course of NBA history, we’ve been spoiled with wild dunks and posterizings, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who is the best dunker of all time.

Everyone seems to have a crazy highlight reel these days, but these 20 dunkers stand out and reign supreme above the rest.

Here are the Top 20 Dunkers in NBA History, ranked from worst to best…

20. J.R. Smith

He might not know how to keep score, but his dunking ability is A1. From windmills, to between the legs, 360s, and reverses, J.R. Smith has given the NBA fans a collection of dunks that is hard to beat.

 

19. Dwight Howard

Former slam dunk contest champion, Dwight Howard was able to win the contest with his “MJ like” dunk from the free throw line.

 

18. Russell Westbrook

This man is the definition of high energy. Russells’ athleticism is the best the NBA has seen in years and his intensity can’t be matched as playmaker and dunker.

 

17. Tracy McGrady

Honored as a scorer, underrated as a dunker. Tracy McGradys game-time dunking was captivating. He was able to dunk over defenders as easily as he could drive past them.

 

16. Aaron Gordon

One of the extraordinary dunkers of this generation. Many fans still feel Aaron was robbed of the 2016 dunk contest when the judges handed Zach Lavine back to back dunking titles instead.

 

15. Larry Nance

This man had serious bounce. His real time dunks would leave the crowd in awe. Also, he is the 1984 dunk contest champion.

 

14. Shawn Kemp

Shawn wreaked havoc in the NBA during the 90’s, check out his dunk on Alton Lister for one of the most iconic poster dunks in NBA history.

 

13. DeAndre Jordan

The poster child of NBA dunking. This man has destroyed defenders over the course of his career; ruthlessly over powering grown men on national television for some of the best posterizing dunks of this generation. DeAndre is famous for sending Brandon Knight to the ground while converting an alley oop from Chris Paul.

 

12. Zach Lavine

Many people might expect Zach to be a bit higher up on this list, but after hit lit up the dunk contest in 2015 & 2016, he’s been underwhelming with his in-game dunking.

 

11. Shaq

How many backboards need to be broken for people to respect Shaq as one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history? Shaq often gets overlooked as an elite dunker because of his size, yet he’s given us some of the most electrifying slams in the game.

 

10. Dwyane Wade

The undersized shooting guard has ridiculous athleticism that has been show cased over the years. His most respected dunk was overpowering Anderson Varejao with an intense trademark slam.

9. Kobe Bryant

Kobe is known for being the clutch shooting, 5 time champion, but people are quick to forget he’s given us top tier dunking material over the years.

8. Dominique Wilkins

“The Human Highlight Film” has some of the nastiest dunks of his generation.

7. Gerald Green

Although he’s bounced around from team to team over the years, the one thing about him that has stayed consistent is his dunking. Green’s Windmill dunk with his head above the rim while he was a Net is one of the best in game dunks, ever.

6. Nate Robinson

He’s 5’9” and won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest 3 times…

5. Michael Jordan

Mj is recognized for being the “G.O.A.T” and the fans are quick to forget the former dunk contest champion is one of the greatest dunkers ever as well. His athletic ability was unmatched. His most famous dunk is now the logo of the Jordan brand.

4. LeBron James

LeBron is an animal. He’s literally jumped over players in games for alley oops. His most famous dunk was on the Miami heat when he bodied Jason Terry for an alley-oop dunk that was powerful enough to put the defender in cardiac arrest.

3. Blake Griffin

He’s known best for jumping and dunking over a Kia Optima to win the Slam Dunk Contest, but the array of poster dunks he’s punished defenders with over the years brings him high on this list.

2. Julius Erving

Dr. J is mainly responsible for bringing the popularity of dunking to basketball. He was the first prolific dunker to be seen on TV. His highlights are still amazing today.

1. Vince Carter

No surprises here. Vince Carter is crowned by most to be the greatest dunker of all time. He’s gifted the NBA with some of the most premiere dunks in history. His poster dunk while playing for Team USA against the French might be the best dunk in the game of Basketball.