Dunk HQ

Do it for the Vine, LaVine

If you haven’t gotten the chance to check out the dunking exploits of new Wolves rookie Zach LaVine, All Ball guru Lang Whitaker has already provided the proper introduction.

What I’m going to do is take this a BIG step forward: Given what I’ve seen from this UCLA skywalker, both on the collegiate level and in the early stages of his NBA career, I’m going out on a limb to say that LaVine will go down as one of the best dunkers we’ve ever seen in the NBA.

You know what? As blasphemous as it may sound, LaVine might be the most exciting we’ve ever seen when it’s all said and done. Write it down. Take a picture. Hang it on your refrigerator.

I know, I know, I know. The man hasn’t even taken his first dribble in a meaningful professional game. But let’s take a quick look at why LaVine is and will be the new standard bearer of slam:

Height: The first — and quite frankly, only — names that come to mind in comparison to the air that LaVine gets is Vince Carter in his early days and Gerald Green of today. We’re talking nose-high level to the rim. Getting that kind of elevation definitely has an impact on …

Style: Nothing makes a dunk stand out quite like flair. In LaVine’s case, he has a great deal of smoothness and airborne creativity about him. As mentioned before, his crazy hang time allows him to do things in the air that run-of-the-mill dunkers just don’t have the time to pull off.

The perfect blend of these two factors? How about a windmill from the free-throw line. Yes, you read that right. The free-throw line. Allow that to marinate while we wait for the upcoming season.

And you know what sets this all off? He’s just getting started. We’ll definitely be watching, Zach. Both up in Minnesota and at NBA All-Star 2015 in New York, where we assume you’ll be taking center stage in the Sprite Dunk Contest.


VIDEO: Zach LaVine puts on a dunk show at Summer League

 

PG drops another one

Things didn’t go the way the Pacers had hoped for last season. There was another flame-out to the team they were out to take down, their Eastern Conference nemesis Miami Heat. Now free agency and trade rumors are creeping their way into the mix and threaten to cause a serious shake-up in Indiana.

Much of that, however, is out of the hands of Pacers All-Star Paul George. While he, the Pacers and the NBA wait for the dust to settle on the craziness that is the season of free agency, George continues to work on perfecting the 360-windmill dunk that he’s recently taken on as his own.

Similar to the days of the NBA lockout, many NBA players take advantage of Pro-ams and high-caliber summer tournaments like the Drew League to not only keep their games tight, but to also put on a show. Even in the offseason, George seems to still have that aspect of the game on lock.

PG Vs. VC


VIDEO: Compare Paul George and Vince Carter’s slams

Yep, we’re still pretty pumped over Paul George‘s sick 360-degree windmill jam. We definitely don’t see those kinds of dunks on a regular basis, especially during a game.

But we have seen it before.

For many of the younger NBA fans, Vince Carter didn’t earn one of the best NBA nicknames, “Half-Man, Half-Amazing”, for nothing. (Wonder how that would look on the back of today’s nickname jerseys…) Vinsanity was easily one of the best dunkers of his heyday, if not the very best. (Is 2000 really that long ago? Geez.) And his epic 2000 Slam Dunk Contest performance is every reason you need to believe that kind of declaration.

Let’s just hope that George isn’t too big for this year’s Dunk Contest and can hopefully inspire a high-flyer down the line in the same fashion that Carter probably did for him.

As always, check out the Dunk HQ, your home for the countdown of the best jams of the season! Of course PG is in the mix!

The Next Level Of The Alley-Oop


VIDEO: Check out out the best off-the-glass alley oops

It’s always been thought that if you can make those around you better, everyone wins. And there’s no better way to do that in the NBA than sharing the ball and putting your teammates in position to thrive. À la, the alley-oop.

What we’re starting to see lately in the NBA is an evolution of sorts of that all-to-familiar notion. Sure, Lob City  is always fun. But now that we’re into the new year, it’s all about pushing things forward. And this season, we’ve been bearing witness to some creative two-way hook-ups: backboard alley-oops.

Pistons tandem Brandon Jennings and Andre Drummond kicked things off early in the season with one of the showiest of Showtime plays you’ve probably ever seen on the L.A. hardwood. Not to be outdone, Isaiah Thomas and new Kings high-flyer Derrick Williams brought the Hollywood show to northern Cali with their own backboard rendition.

As they’ve shown before, this is nothing new for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who have taken a keen liking to the glass connection. They’ve pulled it off not once, but twice this season, with the second edition coming in front of a national audience on Christmas Day for all to see.

Is this the start of something big? Only time will tell. But at this point, there’s a new alley-oop sheriff in town and it’s being joined by its newest partner in crime, the backboard.

As always, make sure to check out the Dunk HQ, our rolling countdown of the season’s best jams!

Kobe Gets Reaquainted With The Rim


VIDEO: Kobe Bryant throws down the first dunk since his return

A dunk is only worth two points, huh?

Not when you have the kind of impact that Kobe Bryant has. Not when you’re 35 years old and you’ve been pushing your body for months to do the unthinkable. Not when you’re only in your second game back from a devastating, career-altering injury and you completely blow all of the doubters’ minds.

OK, so maybe unlike Vino, dunking doesn’t necessarily get better with age. So what if it won’t crack the ultimate countdown at the Dunk HQ as one of the top dunks of the season. So what it lacked some of the bounce, flash and finish that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Kobe ever since he stole the show as a teen at the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. What this does show is Kobe, repaired Achilles’ tendon and all, still has the fire, competitiveness and ability to pull off the unthinkable. And to do so in such short time, it begs the question: What else will Kobe do to surprise us?

Kobe may not be shocked at all by his feat, but one person who probably didn’t see this one coming is P.J. Tucker, the defender Kobe blew by for the jam. Remember, this is still “The Mamba”. This is just what Kobe does.

Dunk Contest, Gerald Green … A Match Made In Heaven, Right?


VIDEO: Check out some of Gerald Green’s best dunks of the season

Say it ain’t so, Gerald Green.

We understand that progression is the key to pretty much anything in life. Trust me, I get it. Sometimes you just have to move on and move forward.

But to completely give up on the Dunk Contest though? Now that’s just down right unacceptable. Not when you’re arguably one of the most exciting dunkers we have in the league today. Not when you’ve been spotlighted more than once on our Dunk HQ countdown and voted by the faithful HQ fanbase as the highest jumper of all in today’s NBA land. And not when you already own a seat amongst the gods of the dunk.

Talk to us, Gerald. We’re here to listen. Vent. Get all of those frustrations out. What’s missing? Are you feeling a tad unappreciated even? I mean, do you honestly not see what we’ve seen in some your previous Dunk Contest jams? What do we need to do to sway you to come back? Hopefully we can find the answers better than Kanye West can.

What do you think? Is Green feeling a little, well, green? Help us out here.

As always, make sure to hit up the new and improved Dunk HQ, your official NBA.com home for slams, where we’ll be rating all of the top dunks of the season and much more.