The year 2016 was a lot of things. Thankfully for us, one of those things was “filled with incredible dunks.” And now we decided to rank the very best of the year, at all levels of basketball.
Perhaps the NBA’s dunk contest in Toronto, which became an electric game of sudden death between Aaron Gordon and eventual winner Zach LaVine, was portentous of things to come—many of us in the building that night left convinced it had to be the best ever. Gordon and LaVine are all over this list, understandably. Below you’ll find many familiar names, some less familiar ones, and a few viral items that couldn’t be denied.
We’ve done our best to compile the best high-flying moments of the year—so far. Watch them all below.
30: Steve Ballmer, never forget
29. Hey, who won SI’s Sportsperson of the Year?
28. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Porzingis
27. Does this say more about J.R. or LeBron?
26. John Wall, lefty, on EnesKanter
25. Jordan Clarkson gives Alex Len a haircut
Alex Len, unfortunately, appears on this list again later.
24. Jabari Parker goes baseline on Myles Turner
JP is one of the league’s better baseline operators, and one of its more underrated dunkers. Look where he takes off from!
23. There’s a lot of Aaron Gordon on this list
22. Jaylen Brown is not amused with himself
21. Professional dunker dunks basketball real good
Some people were put on this earth to play basketball, some are just here to do cool dunks.
20. Blake Griffin dunks on Robin Lopez
Raising awareness for mascots everywhere.
19. If you haven’t heard of Kerwin Roach, now you have
18. Larry Nance Jr. introduces himself to David West
Unrelated: is David West old enough to have played against Larry Nance Sr.?
17. This would be higher if we were sure it wasn’t staged
This guy is a high school football star.
16. 5'9" A.J. Harris gets up against Florida
15. Aaron Gordon windmills in Los Angeles
...and provides a year’s worth of sustainable energy to Orange County.
14. Don’t make DeMar DeRozan angry
I thought about ranking him No. 46. Alas.
13. Russ seals the game against Houston
This was awesome.
12. I wish Wayne Selden was in the NBA
11. Jabari Parker scales Nerlens Noel
I audibly gasped just now.
10. This would be higher if we could guarantee it was real
9. ...Dwight Powell?
8. Zach LaVine, over Alex Len
Poor Alex Len.
7. Giannis bends reality
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
6. LeBron’s Finals alley-oop
This was much cooler in the context of this specific game, but remains dope.
5. Paul Millsap should apologize to John Henson
4. I really wish Wayne Selden was in the NBA
3. Andrew Wiggins leaves a JaVale-sized hole in the floor
Those Timberwolves sure can dunk.
2. Zach LaVine, 360 from the free throw line
Ok, he’s just inside the free throw line, but this is just as impressive as anything he did in the dunk contest, which he won. Speaking of which...
1. Aaron Gordon, at the dunk contest
I saw this miracle occur in person and nearly fainted. This takes it.