To call this past season’s dunk contest embarrassing might be an understatement. While fans dream of the stars duking it out like the good ol’ days, the NBA continues to try and market their younger, up-and-coming players. All of this public outcry isn’t enough to make Dwyane Wade change his mind. Back in February, he told The Palm Beach Post, “You don’t want to see me in that. I’m not a Slam Dunk kind of person. I’m a game dunker. I’m not creative enough. I don’t jump as high as those guys, or do all these things in the air that they can do. No one wants to see me in there. That’s why I have never raised my eyebrow to being in the dunk contest.”
Rattling off six excuses in one swift thought is enough to make me think things aren’t going to change anytime soon. I don’t know what highlight reels he’s been watching but I think every basketball fan knows Wade is one of the more prolific dunkers in the game. Nonetheless, it looks like the future will be littered with more dampered and superstar-less dunk contests.
Luckily, there are some serious high flyers entering the league this year. While 2012 NCAA Dunk Contest winner James Justice won’t be gracing the NBA hardwood anytime soon, there are plenty of acrobatics to go around in the 2012 Draft class, including these top ten dunkers.
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10. MILES PLUMLEE
The Plumlees aren’t necessarily noted for their athleticism or air-walking capabilities, but if you sleep on Miles, he will surprise you (especially since he just tested out with a 41-inch vertical!). Right now he is projected as a mid-second rounder, but with his size and high IQ, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him succeed at the next level.
9. QUINCY MILLER
Quincy Miller was once of the best dunkers in his high school class until an ACL tear set him back a bit. Although still explosive, had that injury never happened, he might have been number one on this list. Despite only averaging 10.6 points per game, the lanky small forward stands at 6-10 and has the hops to throw down over anybody. Miller played both high school and college ball with Deuce Bello, winner of the 2010 Under Armour Slam Dunk Contest at the Boost MobileElite 24, so you know dunking is in his blood.
8. HARRISON BARNES
Harrison Barnes has an extremely versatile game, but lost in his ability to shoot, slash and break down defenses is his underrated dunking game. After leading the Tar Heels in points this past season, he will absolutely be a top-7 pick and the team that drafts him gets a stud for years to come. He doesn’t get too many jams, but when he does, he makes them count.
7. MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST
Like Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is not known for his jumping prowess. The lockdown defender stands at 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan, giving him an NBA-ready body. Offensively, his game lacks polish and it can be debated that he shouldn’t even be included on this list. For those doubters, I offer you one highlight that can easily change your mind.
6. PERRY JONES III
Between Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller, the dunks behind closed doors at Baylor practices must have been insane. Like Miller, Jones III is a long small forward who right now is raw, but has all the potential in the world to shape into an NBA All-Star. As a senior in high school, Jones III made it to the finals of the McDonald’s All-American Dunk Contest and he hasn’t looked back since.
5. ANTHONY DAVIS
He’s the No. 1 pick of the draft. He blocks shots. He rebounds. He can spread you out with a jumper. He can keep you honest with a hook with his back to the basket. And if you give him the opportunity, he can make you pay with a monster slam. Antony Davis is the real deal. From 6-3 in high school to the 6-10 No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft, Davis didn’t lose any athleticism in between. Just check out this video of him chilling in sweats while having some fun with a lucky (or unlucky, however you want to look at it) Kentucky fan. This is just the beginning of a long highlight reel for the star of this year’s draft.
4. JARED CUNNINGHAM
Had Jared Cunningham been playing for a college powerhouse, I’m sure many more people may have heard of him. However, don’t let his lack of exposure fool you. This kid can fly. Seen as more of a long-term prospect, he still has some work to do, but his skill set, including his ability to hang in the air, make him a possible sleeper out of the second round.
3. TERRENCE JONES
Surprise! Yes, it’s another Kentucky Wildcat, but I promise it’s the last one. Luckily, we saved the best for last. While Terrence Jones isn’t as high profile as Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he can go dunk for dunk with either one. At 6-9 and 250 pounds, he isn’t quick enough to blow by anyone, but his strength and power are what separates him from the rest of the pack.