This year’s San Antonio Spurs group is one of the most athletic in recent memory, leading to some high-flying dunks and spectacular moments.
Historically, flashiness and the San Antonio Spurs don’t gel very well. This is a team that prioritizes the fundamentals of the game, enforcing quick-trigger decision-making and methodical actions. They take more mid-range jumpers than any other team and don’t shoot nearly as many 3-pointers as their competition. In the past, Spurs teams didn’t dunk all too often, but times are changing.
Nine Spurs players finished with at least 10 dunks in the 2019-20 NBA season. At the end of seasons, fans usually remember high scoring performances, game-winners, ankle breakers, emphatic blocks and, of course, the high-flying dunks. There’s an argument to be made that seeing a player soar through the air to throw down a dunk is the most exciting part of a basketball game.
This year, the Spurs got to partake in the fun. Every player on this team has a different dunking style. There are some who throw down vicious tomahawk jams like Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan, emphasizing power over theatrics. Others, like Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV, prefer to put some flair on it.
What’s nice about having all of these dunkers on the San Antonio Spurs is that this team, which is traditionally known for being straight and narrow, has some spunk to it. That deserves to be celebrated, which is why we’ve compiled the five best dunks from the 2019-20 Spurs season.
Next: No. 5 — The nail in the coffin
Dejounte Murray punctuates career-night vs. OKC in a San Antonio Spurs win.
During his first season back from a devastating ACL tear, San Antonio Spurs starting point guard Dejounte Murray took steps forward fulfilling his potential. As time went on, he readjusted to game pace, getting comfortable as a primary ball-handler and perimeter scorer. His best offensive performance of the season came against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the Rodeo Road Trip.
Heading north to OKC, Murray was forced to pick up the slack for his team. This was one of the few games that star scorer DeMar DeRozan missed for the silver and black this season, opening up a ton of shots and ball-handling opportunities for the third-year guard. Murray took full advantage, hitting 9-of-12 shots for a career-high 25 points in 26 and a half minutes.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 12, 2020
It was a game of runs that San Antonio sustained based on the scoring output that Murray brought to the table. Despite a late push by the Thunder, Murray decided to kick it into overdrive and cap the game off with a huge dunk.
With just over a minute left in the game, Murray beat OKC point guard Dennis Schroder off the dribble with a quick step onto the baseline. Using the open space and his deceptive speed, Dejounte elevated and spiked home the one-hander with some flair and excitement. This, ultimately, put the game to rest and solidified that Murray’s career-night would result in the most important stat of all: The victory.
For that, Dejounte gets the fifth spot on the list.
Next: 4. DeRozan's perseverance results in a poster
4. DeRozan rides the San Antonio Spurs’ momentum to posterize the Suns.
The darling of the Orlando bubble seeding games, the Phoenix Suns gave San Antonio trouble in their visit to the River City this season. This wasn’t for lack of effort from DeMar DeRozan, who led the San Antonio Spurs in scoring with 30 in the contest. His most important bucket came in the fourth quarter with momentum in the team’s favor — Most of which came from his own effort.
CLEAR THE LANE!
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 25, 2020
DeRozan dribbled the ball up the court off of an inbounds pass. With one swift crossover dribble, he accelerated past an All-Defensive candidate in Mikal Bridges to pursue the rim. Bridges made an attempt to recover, but by that point, his fate was sealed. DeRozan elevated from just a step inside the painted area and threw it down over both Bridges and help defender Dario Saric.
Both Bridges and DeRozan were sent stumbling upon hitting the ground as DeMar was forced to lean on Derrick White to catch his balance. The hometown AT&T Center crowd erupted in excitement as his teammates rejoiced, but DeMar remained a stone-cold killer. His expression remained focused on the task at hand as he prepared to take his free throw.
San Antonio ultimately lost this one, but this is the moment that fans are going to remember from that one. It wasn’t a great team effort, though it was a testament to DeRozan’s assertive nature.
Next: 3. Rudy shows the rookie who's boss
3. Rudy keeps the San Antonio Spurs’ bubble hopes alive by punishing Hayes.
Every game was infinitely more important for the San Antonio Spurs inside the Orlando bubble, leading to a lights-out performance by veteran Rudy Gay. There’s an argument to be made that his seven-game stretch in Orlando was the best of his Spurs tenure with efficient shooting, wonderful leadership and a balanced approach to the game. This was on full display against the New Orleans Pelicans.
San Antonio thwarted Zion Williamson’s NBA debut in January, but Gay didn’t play a part in that one. He made up for it by scoring 19 against the Pelicans when they leaned on him in the bubble. Even though his mid-range scoring and 3-pointers were magnificent, Gay turned back the clock in the second half with a dunk reminiscent of years prior.
When the Spurs signed Gay, they didn’t expect the same athletic freak that he was in Memphis or Toronto. An Achilles tendon tear puts a real damper on a player’s confidence and ability to elevate for monstrous dunks. However, Gay’s dunk over Pelicans rookie Jaxson Hayes in the seeding game on national television showed the world that he’s still got it.
Gay put together a string of dribble moves to get past Hayes on the perimeter before heading to the rack. Coming from the left side of the rim, Gay got to the opposite side of the rim and threw it down with authority off of two hands. He was met at the rim by the athletic rookie who shares an alma matter with LaMarcus Aldridge, who attempted to swat the dunk from behind.
That didn’t work out well for Hayes or the Pelicans, who immediately needed a timeout. San Antonio went on to win the game 122-113 with a 41-point fourth-quarter explosion.
Next: 2. Lonnie touches the sky
2. Lonnie Walker IV flies higher than any San Antonio Spurs player ever has.
There’s a decent argument to be made that Lonnie Walker IV should have his own highlight reel of dunks from the season. Every time he gets up in the air, it’s a sight to be admired. Whether he finishes with an extraordinary slam or a nifty layup, Walker manages to catch the eye of everyone who watches him play. That was amplified when he took flight against the Indiana Pacers.
Walker had a handful of great plays in this game on both sides of the floor. He dove for loose balls, slung great passes and drained a few jump shots, but most people will remember what may be the single most athletic feat that a Spurs player has ever achieved.
Running from coast-to-coast with the ball in his hands, Walker blurred past halfcourt and attacked a backtracking Justin Holiday in the paint. Before he even had a chance to react, Lonnie leaped into the air, palming the ball with his right hand and straight-arming it for an Earth-shattering jam.
This was in the midst of a loaded night of NBA basketball and most national fans were glued to other games. However, for one brief moment, the entirety of basketball Twitter basked in the glory of Lonnie’s freakish athleticism. It broke the SportsCenter Top 10 with relative ease as the sports world simply marveled at Walker’s ability to scrape the sky before anyone — Even the cameramen or his teammates had a chance to react.
As he slammed it home, the entire AT&T Center erupted and Trey Lyles began to jump for joy. San Antonio’s bench shook as everyone jumped to their feet in excitement. After so many missed dunks in a similar fashion, it was invigorating to see what happens when Lonnie Walker scrapes the sky.
Next: 1. DeRozan's revenge on Toronto
1. DeRozan takes out his frustrations from the San Antonio Spurs/Toronto trade.
Every time the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors have met since the initial trade, DeRozan has played out of his mind. Part of it is because he’s familiar with the talent on that roster and some of it is personal. Even though Chris Boucher had nothing to do with DeRozan getting traded, one would have to think this was personal in his second game as a visitor in Toronto.
From the start to the end, DeRozan and the Spurs dominated their road victory over the Raptors. This was especially impressive when considering that Toronto’s home record was amongst the best in the NBA this season. It took time for the Spurs to get going after a poor first half, but DeMar wouldn’t allow his team to lose against the group that traded him to San Antonio.
While DeMar was celebrated by fans and former teammates for all of his contributions to the team, even in his second return, this moment was telling.
Late in the third quarter as momentum shifted in the Spurs’ favor, DeRozan found himself in takeover mode. Not all of his teammates were playing reliably and backup forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson found himself stuck with the DeRozan assignment.
DEMAR JUST ENDED CHRIS BOUCHER ? pic.twitter.com/QtT0WCR2Ex
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2020
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The veteran wing brought the ball past halfcourt for the silver and black before changing direction with a behind-the-back dribble. With a brief lane to drive through as the Raptors clogged the high post, DeRozan took a gather through three defenders and rose up near the rim. This would’ve been a great dunk had DeRozan been alone in the paint, but that wasn’t the case.
Boucher decided it would be a good idea to meet DeRozan at the rim. He was wrong.
DeMar spiked the ball through a ton of contact, getting tangled with the big man in the process as they each fell to the floor. The referee blew his whistle, signifying the perfect combination of a powerful dunk and fault of the defender to solidify the poster. You can see DeRozan push off of the ground quickly, looking down upon his victim with pity in his eyes as he proceeds to the free throw line for his easy shot.
An audible “OOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!” erupts from the Raptors fans as Drew Eubanks burried his face in his hands and cowers into the shoulders of Jakob Poeltl. The Spurs stand in amazement from the bench as each of his teammates congratulates him on his highlight reel finish.
Not only is this the Spurs’ best dunk of the 2019-20 season, but it might legitimately be the single best dunk of this year in the NBA.