BEST OF 2011-12:
Eric Patten (@ericpatten) | 4/24/12

Blake Griffin’s best dunks of the 2011-12 season have been dramatic, athletic, and, at times, nothing like we’ve ever seen. Griffin’s penchant for powering over opponents (ala three of the top five below) generates the kind of international buzz that trends on social media websites for hours, if not days. His dunks are polarizing, argued over, and the kind of energy and momentum swinging plays that have made the Clippers seem unbeatable at certain points this season.

In choosing the top 10, several were eliminated that could have easily made it. Griffin’s two-handed alley oop on Sunday against the Hornets, for example, where his eyes are near even with the bottom of the backboard, did not make the cut. Neither did his dunk against the Bucks, where he leaped over a stumbling Ersan Ilyasova. Or his flying tomahawk off a between-the-legs pass from Chris Paul, Griffin’s dunk muse, in the All-Star Game. For anyone else, those three highlights would have been cinches for the first five, but not when we’re talking about Blake Griffin.

Note: To compile the list, I considered degree of difficulty, magnitude, in-game situation, crowd reaction, and, of course, style.

  • 10. BOBCATS BREAK THRU: February 12, 2012
  • Paul threw a behind-the-back pass around DeAndre Jordan to Griffin streak down the lane. The finish, a one-handed tomahawk where Griffin took off from the dotted line, is enhanced by the vibrant cheer from the road crowd.

  • 9. HUMPHRIES GETS HAMMERED: January 16, 2012
  • On an afternoon that was arguably bad enough for Nets forward Kris Humphries, who was booed on every touch, Griffin’s first-quarter dunk made it worse. Randy Foye dropped off a pass to Griffin and the superstar forward switched hands in mid-air before throwing it down over his front-court counterpart. Listen close and you’ll hear someone, presumably Jordan, yell, “Oh Yeah!” as Griffin catches the pass.

  • 8. LIFT OFF VS. ROCKETS: March 17, 2012
  • Anyone wondering why the Hornets dunk from the Clippers’ final home game didn’t make the cut need only look at this one. It’s similar in the way Griffin finishes, with two hands, his head near the rim. However, the Hornets dunk is an alley oop this one is off a stutter step and bounce pass from Paul.

  • 7. SUNS SEE DOUBLE: March 29, 2012
  • It might be cheating but the easiest way to squeeze more than 10 dunks into the list was doubling up (you’ll see more of that later). This Griffin double came on back-to-back plays. First, Paul hits him on pick and roll for slam over Channing Frye. It clearly would have been higher on the list had Frye not recoiled at the last second, which actually further proves Griffin’s prowess at the rim. Seventeen seconds later, Griffin steals a pass from Steve Nash, retrieves the ball along the sideline, passes to Paul and gets it back for a lob.

  • In what had largely been a lethargic first half by the Clippers, Griffin energized the group to start the third quarter with a high-flying slam over four players, including one of his teammates. This dunk never got its just due, it seemed. But watch how far Griffin extends his right arm to complete the play.

  • This one is all about timing. Griffin throws a skip pass to Foye in the right corner and backed out of the paint, but as Foye missed the 3-point attempt, Griffin came rushing in to clean it up with perhaps his best follow dunk off a Foye miss… on the road. The Mavericks commentators suggest that the oohs and ahhs from the American Airlines Center crowd were perhaps the “loudest thing we’ve heard all night.”

  • There’s something about an inaccurate alley oop pass. It usually makes for the best dunks, especially when the guy completing the play is Blake Griffin. Eric Bledsoe’s pass on the fast break was a little too hard and a little too wide, but Griffin stretched back over his head with his right hand and flushed it down with DeMarcus Cousins and three other Sacramento Kings nearby.

  • Considering both of these dunks could be No. 1, it’s difficult to drop them to third. However, the Clippers lost the game. Therefore they didn’t have the galvanizing effect of the top two on the list. The first of the Pau Gasol double is a follow dunk for the ages. It was the first basket of the game for the Clippers, a two-hand power slam by Griffin, who leap-frogged Gasol for a rebound. The second dunk was arguably the most talked about slam of the season, rivaled only by another one on this list, Gerald Green’s fast-break alley oop, and Lebron James leaping over John Lucas III. The dunk, likely the most violent of Griffin’s young career, occurred with 7:55 to go in the third quarter, and stirred an already frenzied crowd into a fevered pitch. After catching the bounce pass from Caron Butler, Griffin skied over and through Gasol on his way to the goal.

  • 2. IBAKA CAN'T BLOCK THIS : APRIL 11, 2012
  • Ibaka Can’t Block This. Griffin’s dunk in his hometown around one of the premier shot-blockers in the league, Serge Ibaka, had the most impact on the team as any one dunk this season. It was part of an 11-point second-half comeback and seemingly knocked the Thunder back on their heels. Paul drove past the defense, reached the baseline and kicked it back to Griffin, who dove from the top of the key to catch the ball near the free throw line. A step and a hop later, it was lift off.

  • 1. THE PERKINS: JANUARY 31, 2012
  • It trended on Twitter for nine hours domestically with comments flying in by everyone from Terrell Owens to Lebron James to Matt Kemp. It came against one of the most intimidating defensive players in the league, Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins. It was replayed in the arena throughout the third quarter, garnering a similar awestruck reaction from fans at Staples Center each time. It re-invented the Mozgov. It’s, quite simply, the dunk of the year.

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    Best of 2011-12: "Top 5 Road Victories" | Best of 2011-12: "Top 5 Home Victories"
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