While the Mavs were known more for their pace-and-space offensive style and overall gritty approach to the game, particularly late in the season, the team still put together a nice aerial highlight reel in 2015-16. Not surprisingly, rookie Justin Anderson finds himself on the list multiple times, as he is among the most explosive athletes at his position in the entire NBA. But who else made the cut?
Top 10 Mavs Dunks of 2015-16
Check out the Mavs' most ferocious finishes of the 2015-16 season.
Let the record show that these rankings are just my opinion and are by no means official. Did I miss any good ones? Do you think some should be higher or lower? Are my rankings perfect? Let us know in the comments below and share some of your favorites.
In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at each of the slams, one by one…
We’re used to seeing Dirk Nowitzki jump off the wrong leg to take a shot, but we don’t see it ending in a dunk all too often these days. On that play, however, Golden State’s Brandon Rush didn’t take away the baseline, so the German took advantage. This play was one of many memorable highlights during the Mavs’ 114-91 thumping of the Warriors on Dec. 30, one of the historic team’s nine losses all season.
It took Chandler Parsons a couple months to discover his true explosiveness after spending the first half of the season recovering from hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee, but the forward found it when the calendar flipped to January. This Memphis game came in the midst of his best stretch as a pro. He scored a game-high 26 points in the Mavs’ Feb. 6 114-110 overtime win on the road, including six in overtime. But that dunk stands out as one of the finest two-man sequences of the season, with Parsons coming on the receiving end of a spectacular bounce pass from Zaza Pachulia.
As you’ll notice later, the Mavs made a habit of throwing down highlight-reel dunks against the Timberwolves this season. This first one was one of the most violent, though. Justin Anderson can get UP, and he showed off those hops on this play in the Mavs’ 88-78 road win on April 3, right in the middle of the season-saving six-game winning streak. After the game, Anderson said Nowitzki’s misses usually bounce high in the air off the rim, giving offensive rebounders plenty of time to measure the trajectory and attack the ball at its highest point. That’s exactly what Anderson did here, and all the Wolves defenders could do was watch.
This was the first of Nowitzki’s five dunks this season, and it was also the meanest. The Lakers’ Lou Williams found himself switched on to Dirk in the post, which normally ends in either a foul or an easy Nowitzki fadeaway. But this was early in the season and perhaps the German wanted to send a message to his team, so he decided to throw it down instead. Nowitzki scored 25 and the Mavs would win the third game of the season, 103-93, the first of a three-game series sweep against L.A. The victory was also Rick Carlisle’s 340th as Mavs head coach, the most in franchise history.
There aren’t many people JaVale McGee’s size who can make this play. He catches above the elbow, dribbles, spins, and rises over unanimous Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns for a fairly easy-looking, yet powerful finish. McGee put on display a rare combination of size, quickness, skill, and explosiveness, which is what makes him such a tantalizing player to the Mavericks and other NBA teams he’s played for. Even more notable from that game was Parsons’ 46 minutes of playing time, with much of that coming at the power forward position, as the Mavs won 106-94 in overtime. Parsons at the 4 creates more room on the floor for players like McGee to do their thing, and McGee made it count on that play.
Word to the wise: When Jeremy Evans has a running start and room to elevate, you’re better off just getting out of his way. There are only a handful of players who can reach Evans’ heights, not to mention with the wingspan he has. While Golden State exacted revenge that night, beating the Mavericks 127-107, Evans made arguably the most exciting play of the game. Unfortunately his season would be cut short as he was forced to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum, a very uncommon basketball injury, but he should be back and ready to go in time for next season, when he can possibly make more plays like this one.
There wasn’t one single play that won the game when Dallas defeated Utah, 101-92, to clinch the team’s 15th playoff berth in 16 seasons. But Anderson’s thunderous finish out of a broken play late in the game might have been the dagger. With about 30 seconds left in the game, the Mavs were attempting to ice the clock and protect their 93-87 lead, but Utah’s ball pressure thwarted those plans. Anderson, though, calmly collected the ball and drove unimpeded to the rim for an enthusiastic finish, his momentum carrying his body all the way forward to the point that he was nearly perfectly parallel to the floor. That was one of the rookie’s most indelible moments of the entire season, and the play ultimately helped the Mavericks accomplish their season goal.
Anderson’s third contribution to the list may have been his most significant in terms of game outcome. Early in the second quarter, with the Mavs up 28-25, a Devin Harris missed free throw bounced off the rim but Anderson tracked it down all the way from the three-point line and stuffed it back home. The air was quickly sucked out of Chesapeake Energy Arena as the Mavs took a five-point lead and would go on to win the game, 85-84, in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately Dallas would not win the series, but Anderson’s positive play throughout earned him the respect of his teammates and coach, and further endeared himself to the fan base.
The Thunder would get to know Salah Mejri much better later in the season, but let’s rewind back to the game in which he scored his first-career NBA points. Mejri finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in his first lengthy and meaningful appearance as a Maverick, in a 108-89 loss in Jan. 13. With most of their heavy-minute players resting, the Mavs’ deep reserves got their chance at some playing time, and Mejri clearly took advantage, making numerous huge plays. None of them, however, were as ferocious as the dunk he throw down right over Serge Ibaka, one of the premier shot-blocking forwards in basketball. It wouldn’t be long before the Tunisian rookie earned a higher place in the rotation, and he ultimately proved to be one of the more impactful players on the team down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. The ceiling is high and future bright for the 29-year-old center.
Mercy, mercy. Dwight Powell didn’t show much of it during this play, toward the end of a Feb. 28 128-101 Mavs beatdown of the Wolves. Uber-athletic guard Zach LaVine tried to block it, Adreian Payne knew not to, Parsons ended up falling to the floor, and Devin Harris jumped clear over Wesley Matthews, who ended up taking a few steps onto the court after that play. The dunk even brought Nowitzki to his feet. And for good reason. There aren’t many words in the English language to accurately describe quite how rude Powell’s dunk was, but it easily qualifies as the best Mavs dunk of the season and has to finish high on the list of the most awe-inspiring dunks league-wide.