The best part about watching the Oklahoma City Thunder every night is that on any given offensive possession, they can create an incredible highlight.
They’ve become the most athletic team in the league and flex their prowess embarrassing opponents by throwing down on them.
They’re led in this and in everything on the basketball court by their big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. They each cover a different dimension of highlight-making facials.
Here are my five best dunks in Thunder history.
5. Russell Westbrook on Omer Asik
Westbrook has turned into one of the best players in the league off the ball. This is interesting of course because he has the ball so much and shoots so often while being the primary ball-handler on a possession. But Westbrook is better than anyone at catching a pass and immediately attacking a defense with the drive.
On this play the Bulls are playing zone against the Thunder and Westbrook shows why he is so great against the zone. After swinging the ball around the perimeter a few times the ball gets to Westbrook and he springs into action.
Westbrook tries for a dunk like this once a game by the way.
4. James Harden on J.J. Hickson
Harden is one of the most graceful players in the NBA with the ball. He has a great handle and moves so efficiently and effortlessly covering the ground he wants. This dunk on Hickson is a perfect example of a Beard facial.
In transition he is picking up speed maybe even faster than he knows at the time. Concentrating on beating defenders with the dribble, he finds himself unexpectedly in perfect position to take off. As so often happen, Harden is a split-second ahead of Hickson who thinks he can get the block. One of the biggest secrets in the NBA is that Harden is a super athlete (I think his beard hides this some). He surprises Hickson with the flush that of course goes through the net perfectly.
3. Russell Westbrook alley-oop from Kevin Durant
The best part about this dunk is how perfectly it represents this Thunder team this season. From the moment Durant gets the ball your eyes immediately try and find Westbrook. I saw this one coming but thought it might not happen when Durant stumbles.
The pass was a little off but when does that not help a huge dunk? Westbrook cleanly makes the catch and is in perfect position to extend and take out his hate on the rim. Notice how high the ball bounces after it goes through and then the best part is Thunder play-by-play announcer Brian Davis reacting again about five seconds after the dunk.
2. Kevin Durant on Brendan Haywood
The Mavericks got the best of the Thunder last season in the playoffs but the Thunder had their moments. This was maybe the best in Game 2.
Durant has Peja Stojakovic on him (bad idea) and easily gets by him to his strong hand, which Durant will always do if he can choose. His takeoff is from so far away that Haywood has no chance of reaching the height Durant does. Throw in Durant’s length and any shove he got from Haywood doesn’t matter and improves the dunk as Durant extends and throws down with big time force.
The “jaw face” by Durant after the dunk makes it awesome.
1. Russell Westbrook destroys Shane Battier
You know how Battier looks like he’s lost a step this season? Well, I think this play might be exactly when Battier lost that step.
Like I said before, Westbrook tries for a dunk like this it seems every night. That’s why I always say he has the best chance of topping Blake Griffin for the Dunk of the Year crown.
Here Westbrook again shows how good he is at attacking after the catch. There’s no defender with him right away so he can gather perfectly. Battier is late getting there and may have wanted to take a charge but Westbrook soars around him in the air.
With one hand Westbrook hangs on the rim like he just conquered a city and provides one of his better celebratory roars.