Top 15 NBA Players Who Can’t Dunk Past & Present

When it comes to NBA players, you expect each player’s physical activity and height is the best of the best in the basketball world, whether is shooting, dribble, rebound, layup, fast break, and DUNK.  The average height in the NBA is 6’6″ over the past 40 years.  You would have expected every player in the NBA can dunk.  But can you believe that they’re actually NBA players who can’t dunk in the league?

Yes, you didn’t read wrong.  They are actually NBA players whether current or past, who is over 6 feet tall that can’t actually dunk.  They might be able to dunk during practice, but does it count?  Dunking a basketball has been one of the goals most young players dream of achieving.  Whether in high school, college, and professional level, being able to dunk demonstrate individual physical ability.  Dunking a basketball requires technique, hard work, genetic along with proper preparation. Even though these players can’t dunk, but their other ability can neglect their ability to dunk.

Not many players like Nate Robinson with the height of 5’9″ who were a three-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion.

In this article, we go over the list of players who can’t dunk, but their other ability to score, assist, and dribble help them exceed others in the league.  Does a player with an above-average physical build who can’t dunk really exist?  Let’s go over the list of guys whether past or present who never dunk in NBA.

15. Kendall Marshall

39.9 FG% – 802 Total Points – 160 Total Games – 779 Assists

Kendall Marshall is 6’4″ points guards who were not known for his physical power. In fact, the scouting reports have rated him as a point guard with superb athleticism.  He was the first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Even though he is 6’4″, he doesn’t have the power to dunk like Russel Westbrook who can dunk easily at 6’3″.

Marshall’s NBA career was short, but he put his heart in each opportunity he was given.  He was hooping between NBA and NBA D-League.  He joined Phoenix Suns in his Rookie years in 2012.  Marshall’s performance in the 2012 Summer leagues impressed everyone.  He was traded off to Washington Wizards in 2013 following his poor performance in a game with two assists and one steal.

Marshall traded to many teams and end up in La Lakers in 2014-15.  He made a career-high 20 points and 15 assists against Utah.  Marshall later had a career-high 17 assists in a loss against Denver Nuggets.  Even though Marshall performs well, his overall performance was lacking.  He was traded back to the NBA Development League in 2016-17 and retired in 2017.

It is sad to see players who have high hope but end up short in the NBA.  Not every player is met to be successful in the NBA since the competition was so high.  Marshall was one of the rare 6’4 guards who can’t dunk in the game.

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14. Eddie House

40.9 FG% – 5356 Total Points – 717 Total Games – 1112 Assists – 11 Season

Eddie House is 6’1″ guards who are one of the NBA players who can’t dunk in a single game in the league.  He started his career in 2000-01 with the Miami Heats.  He played 11 seasons in the NBA.  Even though he can’t dunk at the point guard/shooting guard position, he is no weak player.

He joined Boston Celtics backup units in 2007-08, along with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  As a veteran backup unit, House won much respect from the team.  What he brought from the beach was hustle play, diving the loose ball, speed, and deadly three points shot.  He became a crucial player during his two years with the Celtics, especially during the NBA final against La Lakers.

House’s Hustle play in Celtics

Although House can’t dunk in the game, he helped the Celtics won their 17th Championship in franchise history against the top contender in the West (La Lakers).  During 2008 NBA final game 4, Celtic was trailing by 24 points in the first half, but House’s hustle and two crucial three-point shots helped bring Celtics back to a 24-3 run.  Celtics end up with a 3-1 series lead and became the 2008 NBA champion.

House continues his top performance in the 2008-09 playoff.  He did not let the Celtics down by helping the Celtics won seven-game against Chicago Bulls.  In 22 minutes he played, House shot 5 of 5 from the field, this includes 4 out of 4 from the three points line.

He continues this awesome performance in the next round against Orlando Magic with a career-high 31 points.  His hustle play, speed, and three-point dagger will forever be remembered by the fans.  Not NBA players who can’t dunk.

13. Steven Blake

40.1 FG% – 5662 Total Points – 870 Total Games – 3446 Assists – 13 Season – 2x Tripple Doubles

Steven Blake is 6’2″ guards who can rarely dunk in the NBA game.  He had a great performance in Portland Trail Blazers when he replaced injured Sebastian Telfair in 2005.  Blake established his position in the team as a great passer and had career-high 18 assists and 25 points in the 2006-07 season.

Blake was great in the court, whether in passing, stealing, and scoring.  He is not a player that will opening dunk in a game.

12. Beno Udrih

46.3 FG% – 6953 Total Points – 831 Total Games – 2858 Assists – 13 Season – 1x Triple Doubles

Beno Udrih is a 6’3″ guard and started his career in Slovenian Second Basketball Leagues in 1997.  He signed with San Antonio Spurs in 2004-07.  Udrih won 2 NBA championships with the Spurs, even though his playtime was limited, but he was the key backup point guard of Tony Parker.  He played with multiple teams during his NBA career, and end his professional career back in Europe.

Udrih had never dunk during his 831 games in NBA.

11. Patty Mills

43.1 FG% – 5861 Total Points –   671 Total Games – 1549 Assists – 11 Season

Patty Mills is 6’1″ guard who was born and raised in Australia.  Mills currently plays his 12 seasons for San Antonio Spurs.  He was part of the 2014 NBA Champion squat along with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.  Although almost all the players in the squat were either retired or play with other teams except Mills and current head coach Gregg Popovich.

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Mills once played overseas with China’s Xinjiang Flying Tiger team before coming back to the league in 2012.  He never dunks in the NBA games up to date. But he showed his hops in an alley-oop dunk during warmup.  Can we put Mills on these NBA players who can’t dunk? Probably not since it is not during the official game.

Mills is trying to make it big for the NBA 2020-21 season.  He wants to show the young teams in Spurs that he is still around.  He post his opinion on the social medial tweet “They haven’t witnessed that dude over here yet…but they will now,” Let’s us see if Mills will shock us this season with a dunk and take his name off this list.

10. D.J. Augustin

41.2 FG% – 8527 Total Points –   864 Total Games – 3466 Assists – 12 Season (present)

In this embedded video, D.J Augustin easily dunk on kids with no MERCY (obviously not NBA official hoop height 10 feet)

D.J Augustin is a 5’11” point guard from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was drafted by Charlotte Bobcats ( Charlotte Hornets now) in a 1st round 9th overall pick.  He played for several teams throughout his career.  Augustin signed three-years $21 million contracts with Milwaukee Bucks.  He will be free-agents in the 2022-23 season.  Augustin will provide Bucks with a greater attack with his deep shooting beyond the arch.  He averages 37.9% behind the three-point line.

Augustin is one of the few NBA players below six feet, but his speed and deep shooting earn him his position in the team.  He had never dunk in an NBA game.  But the embedded video above demonstrates his dunking power over 10 years old.  Let see if Augustin will surprise us with his dunk in Bucks.

9. Jamaal Tinsley

39.3 FG% – 4652 Total Points –   547 Total Games – 3330 Assists – 11 Season

Jamaal Tinsley is a 6’3″ point guard from Brooklyn, New York.  He was drafted by Indiana Pacers in 2001 in the 1st round 27th overall pick.  Tinsley had a great 7 seasons with the Pacers.  He was starting 69 out of 73 games played during the 2002-03 season.  Tinsley’s crafty spin moves were one of the fan’s favorite.

Tinsley spends the majority of his 2004-05 season tending for his left foot injury.   He lost his starting position to T.J. Ford in the 2008-09 season.  Tinsley resigned with Utah Jazz in 2013 but was later waived by Jazz.  He was one of the fun players to watch, but Tinsley never openly dunk in an NBA game.

8. Steve Novak

43.7 FG% – 2177 Total Points –   467 Total Games – 43% three-point percentage – 11 Season

Steven Novak is a 6’10” power forward/small forward from Libertyville, Illinois. Novak was drafted in 2006 by Huston Rockets in 2nd round pick.  Although Novak’s height should easily allow him to dunk over guys on the court, he had never dunk in the 467 games he played in the NBA.  He was better at shooting mid-range and deep shots which he doesn’t need to dunk. 

Novak signed with New York Knicks in 2011 as a veteran with a minimum of 1.4 million., At the end of the 2011-12 season, Novak’s average 47.2% in three-point percentage.  He was tied with superstar Kevin Durant in 3rd place for 133 three points made.  Novak’s accuracy behind the three-point line earned him a four-years-deal contract with New York Knick next season which worth $15 million.  

7. Luke Ridnour

41.3 FG% – 7740 Total Points –   830 Total Games – 3713 assists – 34.9% three-point percentage – 12 season

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Luck Ridnour is a 6’2″ guard from Idaho.  He was drafted by Seattle SuperSonics 1st round in 14 overall picks.  Seattle SuperSonic history was from 1967 to 2008, and the team relocated to Oklahoma City and becomes the current OKC Thunder.  Ridnour becomes the starting point guard during his 2nd years in the league averaged 10 points and 5.9 assists per game.

Ridnour played with multiple teams and end his career with Orlando Magic in 2014-15.  He never officially dunks in an NBA game.

6. Jameer Nelson

43.6 FG% – 9946 Total Points –   878 Total Games – 4508 assists – 36.8% three-point percentage – 14 Season

Jameer Nelson is a 6’0″ guard from Pennsylvania.  In 2004, was drafted by Denver Nuggets in 1st round 20th overall pick, but was traded to Orlando Magic.  He took over the starting point guard position after Steve Francis traded to New York Knicks in 2006.   Nelson finished the season with averages of 14.6 points, 5 assists per game, and 48.3% field goal percentage.

In 2008, Nelson paired up with Dwight Howard and help Orlando Magic to win their first-round playoff in 12 years.  He averaged 16.2 points per game and 4.7 assists per game through the playoffs.  Magic trust Nelson in taking the last deciding shot and he responded by shooting a buzzer-beater to defeat Denver Nuggets.  He scored his 8020th points on Feb 23, 2014, and took Shaquille O’Neal’s fourth place on Magic’s All-time scoring list.

Nelson’s scoring ability on the court was well recognized by Orlando Magic fans.  It didn’t matter to them even though their point guard can’t dunk during the game.  But making the game-winning buzzer-beater shot is a lot more cooler than dunking.

5. Trae Young

42.9 FG% – 3400 Total Points –   143 Total Games – 1229 assists – 34.5% three-point percentage – 3 Season (3rd season for 2020-21)

Trae Young is a 6’1″ guard from Texas.  He was drafted by Dallas Mavericks in 2008 1st round 5th overall pick and trade to Atlanta Hawks.  He came into the league with a devastating performance during his rookie year.  On his 3rd game of the rookie year, he scored season-high 35 points and 11 assists win against Cleveland Cavaliers.  Later in March 2019, he scored career-high 49 points and 16 assists lost to Chicago Bulls in quadruple overtime.   He ended his rookie year with 19.1 points. 8.1 assists, and 32.4% per game.

Trae continues his stunning performance next season (2019-20) with 29.6 points, 9.3 assists, and 36.1% three points percentage per game. Trae later breaks his career-high 50 points, 8 assists, and 8 three points made.  For the 2020-21 opening season, he scored 37 points and 36 points in two games.

Trae will be the next superstars, we expect him to continue to improve in his game, and becoming the next MVP is not impossible.  He is on our #5 spot for NBA players who can’t dunk because base on basketball reference, he never dunks in NBA games.  He did dunk during the secret pickup game. Maybe he will surprise us with a dunk this season.

4. J.J. Barea

42.4 FG% – 7415 Total Points –   831 Total Games – 3270 assists – 35.2% three-point percentage – 14 Season

J.J. Barea is a 5’10” from Peurto Rico.  He was not drafted in 2006 and later joined Dallas Mavericks later in the summer of 2006.  Barea averaged 2.4 points and 0.8 assists in his rookie season.  Barea resigned a three-years deal with Mavericks in the 2008-09 season and becomes him minutes increase per game after coach Rick Carlisle use him as part of the three guards lineup ( Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Barea).  He scored career-high 26 points in the season against Huston Rockets.

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Barea played a big role in Mavericks’ 2011 playoff against the La Lakers (defending Champion).  He played a bigger role during the 2011 NBA finals game against Miami Heats.  He was the key player to help Mavericks won the 2011 championship.  Coach Carlisle starts Barea as point guard after down by 1-2 series.  But the Mavericks defeated Heats 4-2 series after they won three games in a row.

Although Barea never dunks in an NBA game before, he attempted to dunk during practice and warmup.  The embedded video shows Barea dunk during warmup.  Since there was no evidence of Barea dunk during the NBA game, he is our NBA players who can’t dunk.

3. Isaiah Thomas

43.6 FG% – 9508 Total Points –   525 Total Games – 2599 assists – 36.4% three-point percentage – 9 Season (free agency 2020)

Isaiah Thomas is a 5’9″ from Washington.  He was drafted by Sacramento Kings in 2011.  Thomas was one of the few guys who won the rookie of the month honor after being pick last in the NBA draft. He averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 assists in the March contest.   He continues to shock Sacramento fans with his two-time career-high 38 points game and first triple-doubles in the 2013-14 season (24 points, 11 assists, 10 boards).

How can Thomas on NBA players who can’t dunk since he can get triple-doubles, which included grabbing 10 boards from other team’s big guy?

There are many video clips of Thomas dunk in the pregame, charity games, but not in NBA official games.  In the embedded video (2:34), you will see Thomas failed in his attempt to dunk during the All-Stars game.  He grabbed his own rebound and made a three-point shot.  We continue to put him on these NBA players who can’t dunk list unless Thomas returns to the league this season with a dunk during his free agency 2020.

2. Sam Cassell

45.4 FG% – 15635 Total Points –   993 Total Games – 5939 assists – 33.1% Three-point percentage – 15 Season

Sam Cassell was is a 6’3″ point guard position from Maryland. In NBA 1993, he was drafted by Huston Rockets in 1st round 24 overall pick.  He played for multiple teams during his 15 NBA seasons.  He won three  NBA championships with two different teams.  In 1994 and 1995, Cassell helped the Rockets won back to back championships.  His nickname in the team is “clutch” because he was the closer of the fourth quarter in a close game.  For example, he scored seven critical points in 32 seconds against the New York Knicks in Game 3 of the 1994 NBA Finals or scored 22 points and seven assists and beat Phoenix Suns in Game 7 Western Conference Semifinal.

Cassell was known for his mid-range jumper instead of behind the 3 points arch.  He won his third NBA championship with Boston Celtics in 2008.  Cassell along with other top bench backup units such as Eddie House (#13 on our NBA players who can’t dunk list), J.P. Brown gave Celtics the edge it needs to beat the defending LA Lakers champion.

Cassell was not known for his vertical explosiveness in the dunk, he is more known as a mid-range jumper and clutch play.

1. Steve Nash

49 FG% – 17387 Total Points –   1217 Total Games – 10335 assists – 42.8% Three-point percentage – 18 Season – 3x Triple Doubles

Steve Nash is 6’3″ Canadian player who was fun to watch.  He was drafted by Phoenix Suns in 1996.  He was not a big player in Suns.  Nash left the Suns after two seasons and played for Dallas Mavericks 1998-2004, and led the Mavericks to western conference finals in 2002-03 with Dirk Nowitzki.  They lost to San Antonio Spurs in a 4-2 series.  He returns to Phoenix from 2004-12 and led the Suns to a western conference in 2004.  Nash was named NBA MVP back to back in 2004 and 2005.  He was the first Canadian to win the NBA MVP and the third to win as a point guard (other who won were Magic Johnson and Bob Cousy).

Nash averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists per game.  He had career-high 22 assists against New York Knicks in 2006. Nash was known for his incredible pass whether is a no-look pass, behind the back or between the opponent’s legs.  He was great at leading the team as a point guard because his teammates know Nash will find them on the court.  Base on basketball reference, Nash never dunk in an NBA game.  But the embedded video below demonstrates Nash had hops to dunk.  But since he never dunks in an NBA game, we put him on the top of our list due to his high-level performance in the NBA league.

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FINAL THOUGHT

We’ve just listed our top 17 NBA players who can’t dunk in an NBA game.  Although having the ability to dunk shows your physical athleticism, but the players on our list are the best of the best in the NBA league.  Their speed in their dribble, scoring on clutch time, finding open guys on the court, and passing the ball between the opponent’s legs can neglect their flaw dunking on the court.  Perhaps if they can dunk like Russell Westbrook, we might not see what they can actually do.  So dunking on the court is fun to watch and show a player’s physical athleticism, but that is not all a player can do on the court.

You might also want to read:

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2 thoughts on “Top 15 NBA Players Who Can’t Dunk Past & Present”

    1. Thanks, yeah I’m surprised too that he ends up #1 on my list. Nash was one of the best passers in the league. He’s like an artist on the court.

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