Featured Gallery, NBA / Oct 25, 2010 / 10:00 am

Top 25 Dunkers on the Planet

D-Wade (photo. Jeffery Salter)

As much as old-timers and basketball purists gripe about the lost art of the mid-range jumper or the simple bounce pass, nobody complains about the evolution of the dunk. Why would they? Everybody loves the dunk, and it’s no coincidence that most of the game’s last four decades have been defined by men who excelled above the rim: e.g. Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Thanks to the worldwide reach of the Internet and increasing stages for dunkers to perform, ranking the 25 best dunkers on the planet was bigger than just the NBA; college, high school, playground circus acts and overseas stars infiltrated the discussion. With such a large and diverse pool, rankings were based on a non-scientific combination of in-game, dunk contests, posterizations, level of competition, style, power, and simple aesthetic preference. With that, here are Nos. 25 through 21…

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25. J.R. SMITH (Denver Nuggets)
Probable cause: Two-time NBA dunk contest participant popularized the behind-the-back cram during the ’05 competition. Pulled off a 360 alley-oop in a game.
Reasonable doubt: Known more as a shot-jacker than a dunker. His contest cameos have been largely forgettable, as J.R. seems to put more thought into his tattoos than his dunks.
Physical evidence:

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24. JOSH SELBY (University of Kansas)
Probable cause: Won the 2010 McDonald’s All-American dunk contest. Arguably the most athletic Kansas recruit since Lester Earl or DeShawn Stevenson.
Reasonable doubt: Just a freshman in college, Selby is young and hasn’t built up much of a dunking resume.
Physical evidence:

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23. TRAVIS LESLIE (University of Georgia)
Probable cause: Just take a witness statement from DeMarcus Cousins. Or the South Carolina Gamecocks, who saw Leslie make two SportsCenter “Top 10 Plays” against them in one game last season.
Reasonable doubt: Only recently hit the scene as an elite dunker.
Physical evidence:

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22. TYRUS THOMAS (Charlotte Bobcats)
Probable cause: Stromile Swift 2.0 is a pure power dunker who feeds on lobs and putbacks. Though he’s been a backup more than a full-time starter in the NBA, still manages to make the Top 10 Dunks of the Year lists annually.
Reasonable doubt: Tyrus made it clear he doesn’t give a damn about the dunk contest, and his ’07 showing was appropriately lackluster.
Physical evidence:

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21. DWYANE WADE (Miami Heat)
Probable cause: Serves up more facials than Byron Long. Wade’s hit list includes everybody from Josh Smith and Kevin Garnett to Anderson Varejao and Yi Jianlian. He’s an international posterizer who doesn’t discriminate based on size.
Reasonable doubt: Not much of a contest-type dunker, Wade’s repertoire isn’t very diverse. A couple years back he was good for a backwards alley-oop here and there, but now it’s mostly one-hand bangers more notable for their statement than their style.
Physical evidence:

Stay tuned for Nos. 20 through 16…

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  • Zeitgeist

    Dwayne Wade at No.21?

    After what he did to Anderson Verajeo???

    No.1 better be from another planet….

  • .

    did you really just use “Shaquille O’Neal” and “above the rim” in the same sentence???

  • QRJ12

    the game’s last four decades have been defined by men who excelled above the rim: e.g. Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James

    i think you missed someone ,yeah i’m pretty sure
    last time i checked he was wearing 15 and was spotted in orlando ,lebron james please!

  • JM

    Can’t imagine JR Smith and D Wade that low on this list.

  • derik

    compare to all those crazy dunkers on Youtube, Wade is really just an average dunker…. 21 might still be a little too high

  • ShowKase

    Wait! How do yall put player number 6’s (not Dr. J) name in that group in the opening paragraph? No mention of Vince Carter as a player who “excelled above the rim”? C’mon Dime, VC was the only reason people watched the dunk contest. Last time I check, I saw way more ballers try to put their arm in the rim or hop over 7-footers, than I’ve seen them attempt a lazy one-hand half tomahawk. I’m just sayin, chill with the LeBromance.

  • http://dimemag.com Chicagorilla

    Do any of you understand that this is not just NBA or College dunkers. Its possible that DWade doesnt even make this list. There are guys in the FLIGHT BROR who would destroy the NBAs best dunkers. Guys in college who have 50inch verts and nothing but time on their hands to come up with dunks. @DIME nice start to the list. JRs 360 was the best alley opp since Hoopstv.com showed Vinces windmill alley oop @ gauchos. I hope the list includes that dude Baby Shack from and1, other than AUT, he was the nastiest.

  • Dagger

    It all comes down to how you weigh in game dunks versus competition dunks. Personally I couldn’t care less about competition dunks anymore, so I’m not looking forward to a list of guys who dunk over seven kids but couldn’t even cut it in college ball.

  • nizzio

    Vince Carter is the greatest dunker of all time.

  • https://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Have to agree with C-Rilla people are not looking at the whole of all dunkers from everwhere. Wade is fortunate to make the list but that dunk on Anderson alone, still gives me the willies!

    Loving this series DIME can’t wait to see the rest. I already know who I got at 1 but it will be interesting to see who gets the top spot.

  • http://asdklfj.com Chris

    He’s got no heart, but they’re right, VC is the greatest dunker of all time.

    He owns the greatest in-game dunk of all time (2000 Olympics)

    and the greatest dunk contest performance of all time.

  • Promoman

    Vince Carter can’t be less than #1.


    Most of the best Dunkers are probably not in the NBA, they’re dudes with crazy hops but no real game. James White, Gerald Green, TFB, that dude who can do 720 dunks, dudes who hop over cars an shit… in fact, you could make this list without including any NBA players.
    Dwayne Wade might be the best at the rim finisher in the world and can definitely throw it down, but i’m 100% certain there are more than 25 better dunkers.

  • jace

    tell me AUT is on the list.

    the man is sick.

  • jace

    oh and is this top 25 dunkers on the planet right now? key words “right now” or of all time.. cuz i think some of these comments have it mixed.

    vince carter is the best dunker of all time, IMO.

    so 7 years ago.. yes.. he was #1 on the planet. but hes not that good anymore. so i dunno if i could put him on this “on the planet” list.

  • kingralf

    the tyrus thomas and dwade mixes are really nice.

  • Mike

    I don’t think Tyrus Thomas deserves to be on list. He’s not really special in dunking.