Los Angeles Clippers: Top 5 Blake Griffin Dunks
Blake Griffin has been one of the league’s best dunkers since his rookie year. His vicious posterization of Miles Plumlee last week brings to mind some of his other incredible throwdowns.
Blake Griffin has been a highlight reel dunker since his rookie season for the Los Angeles Clippers. His earth-shattering dunks are in some ways a throwback to Shawn Kemp and in some ways an entirely unique force of nature.
Griffin missed his entire rookie season with a broken kneecap after being taken first overall, and there were concerns that he might not be able to recover the freakish athleticism that he showed during his two years at Oklahoma.
However, Blake quickly dispelled those fears by making his first NBA basket in spectacular fashion:
Even though Griffin did win a dunk contest by jumping over (the hood of) a car, his most memorable throwdowns have been in-game dunks. Blake runs the floor well and gets a ton of dunks in transition, and he can put down alley-oops with the best of them.
His alley-oops alone could fill out a highlight reel, but where Blake really shines is in dunking through contact. Griffin can jump higher than almost anyone, but his incredible strength is also a necessary component of his ability to jump over and through people to get to the rim.
Ranking Griffin’s best dunks is akin to ranking LeBron’s best passes or Steph Curry’s most ridiculous three’s. There are so many great choices that picking just a few is bound to leave some spectacular plays behind.
Nonetheless, some dunks are still better than others. Here is a look at five of Blake’s best jams.
Honorable Mentions: The Best of 2016-17
A true honorable mentions list of Blake Griffin dunks could go on for days. Even a list of his best dunks this season would be quite impressive. Two dunks stood out in terms of ferocity and importance to the team. The first is the massive hammer over Draymond Green shown above.
The Golden State Warriors are basically everybody’s rival, but they have particularly bad blood with the Clippers. A couple of bad recent losses by the Clippers have diminished the rivalry somewhat, but Blake is clearly not backing down.
He even adds a little shove and stare-down after the play to increase the disrespect level. After all, it’s pretty hard to root for Draymond if you don’t live in the Bay Area.
Next up is the dunk that inspired this article, a posterization of Miles Plumlee. Blake seemed rather eager to welcome Plumlee to his new home in Charlotte:
This dunk would be on the top-five list for most NBA players, but Blake is not most NBA players. Still, this dunk is a very positive sign in a series of positive signs after his return from injury.
These two dunks might not be among his five best, but that says more about his best dunks than these two vicious posters.
5. The Steal, The Lob, The Jam
Blake Griffin probably fouled J.R. Smith on this play, but that isn’t really important. What’s important is that Griffin gets to use the length of the court as his runway. Chris Paul throws the ball to about rim level and almost directly above the dotted line.
In nearly any situation, that is an egregiously awful pass. When Blake Griffin is there to catch it, however, the pass somehow works.
Griffin is almost at eye level with the rim when he catches the ball and is still beyond the restricted area. He somehow manages to catch the ball at full extension and demolish the rim on his way back down.
Catching this pass alone was an impressive feat; being able to throw it down this hard afterward was just an added bonus.
This dunk is probably the least well-known of the dunks on this list, but that speaks more to how underrated it is than anything else. Vince Carter‘s very similar dunk is one of the featured dunks in any of his massive highlight reels:
Vince’s dunk is probably more impressive than Blake’s. Still, if you watch the two one after the other, they aren’t all that different. If Vince’s can be called the “Best Alley-Oop Dunk of All-Time” then Blake’s very similar one deserves to at least make his personal top five.
4. Blake Does Double Duty Dunking on Pau Gasol
Either one of these dunks would be career-defining for most players, but for Blake it’s just another day at the office. Being able to beat up on the big brother Lakers is icing on the cake, especially against a future Hall of Famer in Pau Gasol.
The first dunk is honestly just disrespectful. Poor Pau has no idea what’s coming and Griffin demolishes both Gasol and the rim. Blake doesn’t quite pull off the Frederic Weis, but he comes pretty close to it against a far superior player.
He runs up for the put-back as if Pau wasn’t even there and clears him with ease. Blake is almost looking down into the rim by the time he finally puts the ball through.
The second dunk is almost more soul-crushing because Pau knew it was coming. He should be commended for doing the right thing and trying to contest the dunk–especially after the earlier play. Even with the contest, Blake still just goes right through him.
You can also hear how forceful the dunk was–this is a full-fledged dunk instead of just a toss into the rim like some of Griffin’s other top dunks.
Blake probably got away with an offensive foul on at least one of these two throwdowns, but they’re both still spectacular enough to warrant making this list.
3. NBA Street Comes To Life
This is what happens when you pair one of the most creative ball-handlers ever with one of the best dunkers ever. Jamal Crawford throws one of the most ridiculous alley-oop passes in NBA history and Blake responds with a very impressive dunk.
The fact that Crawford even considered this play is incredible. Putting the ball between his legs would have been incredible by itself, but he actually lobs the ball to himself before he puts it between his legs and then lobs it a second time to Blake.
Crawford is a master of improvisation with the ball in his hands, but even for him this move was almost inconceivably absurd.
If any other combination of players attempted this, they might both have spent the rest of the season on the bench. Since it was Blake and Jamal, it instead enters the canonical alley-oop highlight reel.
This dunk would not be in the top five if not for Crawford’s between the legs move before the pass. With it, however, this might be the single flashiest play of the decade so far. The dunk is a very solid windmill and Blake throws it down pretty hard.
Still, the jam itself isn’t quite spectacular enough to top either of the next two on this list.
2. Blake Griffin Destroys Timofey Mozgov
Blake Griffin was a known commodity before this dunk and a superstar afterward. It was very difficult to not put this dunk at the top of the list given how it has defined Blake’s career.
It was also very difficult to not put this dunk at the top of the list because it is an amazing dunk. Blake barely even gets into the paint on this play.
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He somehow manages to go over Timofey Mozgov instead of through him and just throws the ball into the hoop from a decent distance away from the rim. Blake not touching the rim detracts somewhat from the impressiveness factor, but definitely doesn’t invalidate the dunk by any means.
The play seems basically impossible in real time and even less so when viewed in slow motion.
Timofey Mozgov is a pretty solid rim protector and he rotates nearly perfectly on every defensive aspect of this play. He jumps out well to prevent Randy Foye from taking the initial three and recovers well to guard DeAndre Jordan in the paint.
When Blake comes charging at the rim, Mozgov manages to keep Blake from getting to the restricted circle. He guarded Blake about as well as he possibly could have and Blake threw it down anyway.
This dunk was a career-defining play, but somehow still does not top the list of Blake’s most impressive dunks.
1. Blake Griffin Turns Kendrick Perkins Into A Prop
This dunk has everything. Blake jams all over a top-notch defender (at the time) in Kendrick Perkins. He doesn’t push off in any way. He does manage to reach the rim on the throw down. Perkins even aggressively fouls him on the play and it just doesn’t matter.
Any issue that people might have with putting some of Blake’s other dunks in the all-time pantheon are simply not present on this one. Clippers announcer Mike Smith says it best: “It’s better than a Mozgov! I didn’t think it was possible to top him … look at that play!”
Is it a coincidence that Perkins, 27 at the time of this dunk, rapidly declined after that season and is out of the league right now less than five years later? Probably.
Perkins was the Thunder’s full-time starter for two full seasons after this dunk and started every game for them in their run to the Finals that year. Still, this is one of the rare dunks vicious enough that you could pretend that it actually negatively impacted Perkins’ career.
Unfortunately, this play will probably be most people’s lasting memory of Perkins. As a starter on a championship team in Boston and on two other Finals teams, Perkins deserves better than that. Still, this dunk is historic in every possible way.
Griffin has a lot of highlight dunks left in his career, but this one will be almost impossible to top.