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NBA

NBA Big Men Are Not Yet Dunking With Mid-Season Form

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz looks miserable.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty

It’s rude and boomerish and also just incorrect to suggest that NBA players of the “Big Men” variety just hang around under the basket waiting to reach up and dunk the ball. They do lots of things, and all of them are important! But we must never lose sight of the fact that part of their value comes from their ability to simply reach up and dunk the ball. When you are 7-foot-1 and your standing reach goes 9-foot-9, and you are capable of standing on your tip-toes, one way you can be extremely valuable to your team is by just reaching up and dunking the ball.

Which is why this lowlight, from Rudy Gobert, is so troubling. Gobert stands 7-foot-1, and his standing reach goes 9-foot-9. Nothing on a basketball court should be easier for Gobert than reaching up and dunking the ball:

Gobert, after airballing a dunk and losing possession, wipes his fingertips as if to indicate that his hands are slick and therefore to blame for this mess. With all due respect to Gobert, a person who is 7-foot-1 with a 9-foot-9 standing reach should be able to successfully dunk a basketball into a 10-foot hoop even if his hands are coated in vegetable oil. Simply reach up and dunk it.

Here is a demonstration of how easy it is to reach up and dunk the ball when you are the largest person on the court. Thomas Bryant of the Wizards is so good at reaching up and dunking that he will even do it on the wrong damn basket:

The NBA had almost no offseason between the bubble playoffs and this weird December kickoff to the 2020-21 season. For players like Bryant and Gobert, who played in the bubble, this quick turnaround probably means they are somewhat out of sorts, both physically and mentally. But this is where their greatest single advantage should help the most! When you are late on your defensive rotations and out of sync in the pick-and-roll and still do not know the first names of several of your teammates, you can still easily reach up and dunk the ball. Simply dunk the basketball! But only in the correct basket, please.