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FutureStarrJa Morant Dunks For the Memphis Grizzlies
In the third quarter of their 130-112 win against Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant unleashed what could be one of his career-best dunks over Jalen Smith that quickly gained widespread attention on social media platforms.
NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett expressed his delight over Morant's spectacular dunk, saying it "ranked up there with some of the greatest ever." It's evident that Morant's high-flying dunks are becoming staples on NBA highlight reels.
The dunk has always been one of the most impressive feats in sports. It's a breathtaking leap of faith that leaves everyone stunned and in awe. Not only is it an impressive physical feat; but also an emotional one - truly defining moment for our sport.
Before three-pointers became popular, dunks were the highest scoring shot in basketball. Dunkers like Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins would use this opportunity to become dominant forces in the league.
Dunks remain the best way to score, but they have taken a backseat in recent years. The dunk contest doesn't draw as many viewers as it used to, and the NBA hasn't made three-pointers an integral part of its offense any longer.
However, the dunk remains an iconic element of NBA culture and has become one of the game's greatest highlights. Through the years, this competition has only grown more important as part of All-Star Weekend tradition.
Dunking can be described in several ways, but they all share the same basic concept: A player slams the ball against the rim with both hands. This movement requires more energy than shooting a three-pointer which doesn't require any jump shots at all. Furthermore, getting in the air against aggressive defense makes it harder to throw the ball over top of someone while they are still midair.
Given this, ranking the greatest dunks in sports history can be challenging. Not only is the dunk itself not the most significant factor, but its timing and precision that truly set it apart from other plays.
When considering the greatest dunks in NBA history, Dwight Howard's "Superman" dunk stands as one of the most iconic moments. In 2008, Howard donned a cape and performed this iconic move at Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Contest in Orlando.
Dwight Howard's dunk from the contest may not be one of the top five, but it certainly ranks as one of the most memorable. He jumped from within the free throw line and threw the ball through with his hand, cementing its place as one of basketball's all-time greats.
Morant has quickly entered the MVP conversation this season, leading the Memphis Grizzlies to a 24-13 record and sitting just one game behind Denver Nuggets for second place in the Western Conference. He's averaging 27.1 points, six rebounds and eight assists per game while showing his versatility with more than one highlight-reel dunk each game.
On Wednesday night, Morant demonstrated his class with a unique tactic he used against the Charlotte Hornets. Instead of grabbing an inbound pass, he let it drop to him and patiently waited - standing over it for 27 seconds before any Hornets player attempted to challenge him.
Morant's move was legal, as the shot clock does not begin until a player touches the ball. Furthermore, it was an inventive way for Morant to waste 27 seconds without deducting any time from his shot clock.
Morant's decision is also indicative of his understanding of the game's rules. He's an astute player, knowing that in order to reach victory quickly, finding any advantage possible is essential.
On Wednesday night, when the Grizzlies were up 30 points against the Hornets, Morant decided to elevate his game. He came up with an incredible switch-hands dunk that will go down in NBA history.
If you want to try your hand at a dunk like this, there are a few things you should remember. First and foremost, your jump must be high enough for the ball to clear the rim.
Next, you must be able to maintain your balance in the air for extended periods of time. To do this, use your chest and arms at your sides instead of trying to push the ball with your hands.
By practicing "chest to volley," it becomes easier for you to stay airborne long enough for the dunk to happen and increases your chances of being successful. You can achieve this by using a technique known as "chest-to-volley."
Kicking the ball with your planter foot will enable you to gain speed and power as you kick it. Point your foot in the direction that you wish for the ball to go; or hook it by slightly turning your foot while kicking.
Ja Morant often got the ball from a high pick-and-roll and launched towards the rim, often leading to an impressive bucket for the Memphis Grizzlies guard.
Few players can match Morant's ability to drive to the rim, so we've put together some highlights to showcase his incredible leaping ability.
Morant's deceptive leaping ability allowed him to get past even the tallest defenders in the NBA last season, propelling him to become the first player in at least 25 years to lead the league in points per minute in the paint. His incredible feat earned him recognition as a marquee player throughout the league.
He's got the ideal footwork to launch his dunk over bigs who help him up. An athletic two-footed jumper, his sleight build allows him to absorb contact before elevating.
His stutter step, right-to-left switch of direction and bunny hops make it possible for him to sneak under 7-footers in traffic and dunk them. In the NBA, this move is known as "walking the dog," and it's one of the best ways to take advantage of a defender's size advantage when on open court.
Aron Baynes defends Morant as he drives to the right, his quick steps and bunny-like hops creating space for him to shoot. After making his dunk, Morant takes two quick steps left before crossing the ball over with his right foot.
Morant has often employed this maneuver, finishing layups from a high pick-and-roll by launching them to the rim from either foot or two feet. His 57.5 percent completion rate this season ranks fifth out of 59 players who have attempted more than 200 drives.
On the other end of the floor, Morant's dribble-drive and finish skills have been a major reason why Memphis Grizzlies TV viewership has seen an incredible 133% boost this season. This feat becomes even more significant with the arrival of younger, basketball-obsessed viewers eager to witness dunks like what Morant just pulled off.
No magic tricks or explanations are needed - it just happens! Unlike those rare magic tricks which require complex mathematical systems, this one requires such simplicity and obviousness that we are left in awe.
Ja Morant had his best game of the season, making 14 of 25 from the field, including 3 for 5 on 3-pointers, as well as an incredible dunk over San Antonio's Jakob Poeltl that sealed a 123-118 victory for Memphis.
After missing the past two games with right thigh soreness, Morant returned to form on Sunday with 21 points, six assists, four steals and a pair of spectacular dunks against the Spurs.
At the end of the third quarter, the Grizzlies held a commanding 11-point lead. With 6 minutes and 35 seconds remaining in the fourth, they extended their lead to nine points.
On an inbounds pass, a Hornets defender swatted the ball away from Morant and then went up for a layup that didn't go down.
Instead, he tried to pass it to Morant on the other side, but the ball bounced off his arm. It was a classic chasedown block - an action requiring precision and some athleticism.
With approximately 24 seconds left on the shot clock, a Hornets defender jogged into the backcourt and forced Morant to pick it up.
Morant kept the ball inbounds with 27 seconds left, passing it off to Jon Konchar for an inbounds pass. Afterward, he took a few steps behind the ball and stood over it as it slowly made its way up the court.
Bally Sports broadcasters were puzzled by this bizarre sequence, but Morant made the most of his opportunity and displayed his extraordinary ability to read situations and maximize his abilities. It was truly remarkable.
Tee Morant and his dad used to spend hours shooting hoops with all kinds of kids in their neighborhood when he was growing up, but this new venture was an extension of both of their loves for basketball and dedication to the sport. It brought back memories for Tee and his father that still resonate today.