Shooting threes might be the new norm but some NBA players still pride themselves in throwing down thunderous dunks. The ability of freak athletes to "jump to out of the gym" or "fly through the air" is still mind-boggling and every year we see new young and athletic players show off their vertical leap. Michael Jordan still holds the record for the highest max vertical leap at 48 inches but since then many might not have broken it but have certainly matched it.
We take a look at the top five players with max vertical leaps in the league ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Who has the highest max vertical leap ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season?
For the purposes of this article, we are including players with NBA's officially listed vertical leaps and no other records that might have different information. For example, Cassius Stanley was the 54th overall pick by the Indiana Pacers, recording a vertical leap of 46.5 inches at his college, Duke, which in fact, broke the college record of Zion Williamson. However, when he came to the NBA, Stanley could only post a 44-inch vertical leap at the 2020 NBA Draft Combine so he is left off this list. So he might be one of the highest jumpers in the league but the NBA will not recognize it.
#5 Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson joined the NBA in 2019 and immediately established himself as a force in the paint. He led the league in FG% last season for any player averaging over 20 points per game with 61%. Many have suggested he should participate in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest.
He is entering the 2021-22 NBA season with a max vertical leap of 45 inches.
#4 Derrick Jones Jr.
Derrick Jones Jr. beat Aaron Gordon for the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest and showed the league what a high flyer he is. Jones Jr. doesn't just throw down thunderous dunks for an All-Star competition but does so in real-time NBA games as well.
He is entering the 2021-22 NBA season with a max vertical leap of 46 inches, as recorded by the NBA, but he claims that his actual vertical leap is 48 inches.
#3 Zach LaVine
The man many would consider the best dunker in the game today, Zach LaVine is just the fourth player to win back-to-back Slam Dunk contests, joining Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson. He won in 2015 and 2016 and put on a show for the ages as he accumulated several 50-point dunks.
Zach LaVine is entering the 2021-22 NBA season with a max vertical leap of 46 inches.
#2 Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the few who can say they have matched Michael Jordan's max vertical leap record of 48 inches. He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks as the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and has recently agreed to join the Portland Trail Blazers' training camp.
#1 Keon Johnson
Keon Johnson made headlines when he broke the 2021 NBA Draft combine record for a max vertical leap with 48 inches. He was drafted by the New York Knicks as the 21st overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and was then traded to the LA Clippers. He still has to play an NBA game and we all expect him to participate in the Slam Dunk contest as well. With a 48-inch vertical, how could he not participate?
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