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Who has the most dunks in NBA history?

Dunking. One of the most notable features of basketball. As a regular world “tall” person who played basketball, I would often be asked if I could dunk by non-basketball people trying to strike up a conversation about the game. At 6ft3 and of average athleticism the answer would usually be, “sometimes, no i’m not going to show you”. In the NBA though, it’s just part of the game, most NBA players can dunk if given an open lane. Many of them can dunk quite comfortably regardless of how open the lane is. It’s an eye popping feat of athleticism that most normal humans can only stand rooted to the ground and marvel at. Some players, though, dunk a lot more than others.

Who has the most Dunks in NBA History? Since the statistic was officially tracked in 1996, the player with the most NBA Regular season Dunks is Dwight Howard. At the end of the 2023 season he had made 2,950 dunks, leading second placed and retired Shaquille O’neal (2,626) by 324. Dwight Howard (3,252) leads Shaq (3,200) by just 52 dunks when Playoffs and Regular season are combined. Lebron James is the active player with the most dunks in both the Regular & Post Season with 2,107 (4th) and 353 (2nd). [updated for close of 2022-23 season]

It is worth noting that Shaq managed this feat in far fewer games, averaging 3.1 dunks per regular season game. While Dwight managed ‘only’ 2.8. Let’s break down the all time leaders of dunks a bit further.

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Regular Season Career Dunk leaders (since 1996)

The table below shows the 30 All time regular season dunk leaders as of the end of the 2022 season. We have included the numbers up to 30 as the 31st ranked player Samuel Dalembert retired 2 dunks shy of 1,000 on 998. The statistics only go back to 1996, because that is when Dunk shots were tracked recorded consistently across the league as a seperate entity to field goals.

Most NBA Dunks in History (tracked since 1996) – Regular Season
AssistedAssisted %
1Dwight Howard1,0562,9502.82,09370.9%
2Shaquille O’Neal8352,6263.11,80468.7%
3DeAndre Jordan8852,3662.71,95482.6%
4LeBron James1,0802,1072.01,34763.9%
5Rudy Gobert6011,8223.01,47180.7%
6Tyson Chandler8191,7352.11,40581.0%
7Giannis Antetokounmpo6011,6822.81,04061.8%
8Amar’e Stoudemire6671,5932.41,17773.9%
9Anthony Davis5791,5292.61,18577.5%
10Andre Iguodala8111,5061.91,12174.4%
11Shawn Marion7841,4821.91,22582.7%
12Kevin Durant7391,3941.999471.3%
13JaVale McGee6291,3872.21,10079.3%
14Pau Gasol7471,3741.81,08679.0%
15Kevin Garnett8121,3441.71,07179.7%
16Clint Capela4691,3252.81,20490.9%
17Andre Drummond6161,3252.21,00976.2%
18Kenyon Martin5791,2782.298477.0%
20Tim Duncan7101,1451.685374.5%
21Blake Griffin4841,0992.385077.3%
22Dwyane Wade6131,0981.864458.7%
23Josh Smith5881,0691.879774.6%
24Mason Plumlee5371,0692.087081.4%
25Rasheed Wallace5731,0501.884980.9%
26Rudy Gay6181,0501.766263.0%
27Carmelo Anthony5591,0241.877876.0%
28Ben Wallace5851,0121.774873.9%
29Chris Webber5001,0122.078177.2%
30Kobe Bryant6421,0011.658558.4%
Updated for close of 2022-23 NBA season

We said last time that number 13, Kevin Durrant had the opportunity to pass Pau Gasol as he was trailing by 17 Dunks going into the 2022-23 season. He has done that now sitting in12th place.

Anthony Davis had a chance to crack the top 10 last season, he needed just 91 dunks to pass the retired Shawn Marion. Davis recorded 138 to also leapfrog Andre Igoudala into 9th place.

Giannis had the third most dunks in 2022-23 and gained a few places, passing Amare Stoudemire into 7th place all time. Entering the season he averaged a massive 2.7 dunks per game, in 2022-23 Giannis pushed this to 3.5 dunks per game. It should not take the Greek Freak long to climb into the top 5 at that rate.

Lebron James sits in 4th place, it is unlikely that he will be able to pass (barely) active Deandre Jordan or retired Shaq now that he is aging gracefully into a more perimeter based game, but never bet against the King! In 2022-23 he recorded 74 regular season dunks, not bad for a washed guy.

We’ll check back in before the start of next season to see who’s moved up!

Regular Season vs Playoff Dunks – NBA History

As you’ll probably know, when people talk about all time leaders in the NBA, it is by default assumed they are just talking about the regular season. Unless specifically stated otherwise this doesn’t count the Playoffs. So let’s do that, after all, dunking a lot in the playoffs is surely a more impressive feat!

Most NBA Dunks in History (tracked since 1996) – NBA Playoffs
AssistedAssisted %
1Shaquille O’Neal1735743.337966.0%
2LeBron James2063531.722162.6%
3Dwight Howard1053022.921169.9%
4Tim Duncan1472371.618879.3%
5Giannis Antetokounmpo702223.213661.3%
6Andre Iguodala1142051.815575.6%
7Kevin Durant1151951.714373.3%
8Dwyane Wade1101791.69251.4%
9Clint Capela691672.415592.8%
10Ben Wallace861641.911872.0%
11Rudy Gobert491593.213383.6%
12Kenyon Martin821551.911473.5%
13Pau Gasol821521.911575.7%
14Kobe Bryant1061471.48557.8%
15Anthony Davis471413.011279.4%
16Amar’e Stoudemire571402.59970.7%
17DeAndre Jordan501382.811684.1%
18Serge Ibaka781301.710177.7%
19Richard Jefferson761281.710178.9%
20Kawhi Leonard801271.66551.2%
21Bam Adebayo591262.19373.8%
22Shawn Marion661261.910583.3%
23Al Horford821251.59676.8%
24Rasheed Wallace761201.69075.0%
25Kevin Garnett771101.48880.0%
26Tyson Chandler501082.28982.4%
27Chris Webber55971.86870.1%
28Brook Lopez51961.98083.3%
29Jimmy Butler57931.66266.7%
30Tristan Thompson57931.67277.4%
Updated for close of 2022-23 NBA season

As you might expect, 3x Finals MVP and regular season Dunk leader The Big Diesel, dominates playoff dunks. There is a high chance that no one will catch him. If any current player was going to then the best candidate is Giannis. His impressive 2.7 dunks per game in the regular season leaps to 3.2 in the Playoffs. Shaq, not to be outdone, saw his massive 3.1 dunks per game leap to 3.3 for the Playoffs across his career. While Giannis may eventually manage to muster more games, it seems unlikely that Giannis will be able to keep that pace up long enough to catch Shaq. It is clear that since 1996 (and probably ever) Shaquille O’neal has been the most dominant dunker in the NBA.

Most Dunks in a single NBA Game

The player with the most Dunks in a single NBA game is Shaq. During his legendary career he made 11 dunks 3 times, all for the Lakers. No other NBA player has ever made more than 10 dunks in a game.

The top 20 single game dunk totals are listed below. Active players highlughted in bold.

RankPlayerDateForH/RAgainstMade Dunks
1Shaquille O’Neal3/6/2000LAL@LAC11
2Shaquille O’Neal3/19/2002LAL@DAL11
3Shaquille O’Neal3/21/2003LALBOS11
4Clint Capela12/11/2017HOUNOP10
5Dwight Howard11/23/2007ORLCHA10
6Montrezl Harrell12/1/2021WASMIN10
7DeAndre Jordan1/21/2009LACLAL10
8Shaquille O’Neal3/26/2003LAL@HOU10
9Rudy Gobert3/2/2022UTA@HOU10
10Shaquille O’Neal11/29/2002LAL@MEM9
11Dwight Howard2/25/2011ORLOKC9
12Andre Drummond11/25/2014DET@MIL9
13Dwight Howard2/20/2008ORL@TOR9
14Shaquille O’Neal4/15/2002LALSEA9
15DeAndre Jordan1/2/2016LACPHI9
16Giannis Antetokounmpo3/24/2019MILCLE9
17Shaquille O’Neal1/22/2002LALDEN9
18Dwight Howard11/28/2007ORL@SEA9
Most Dunks in a single NBA game as of end 2021/22 season.

It is clear from this table just how dominant Shaq was. As well as holding the top 3 spots, he holds 4 more, giving him 7 of the top 20 spots. Every other player on the list is still active in the NBA. Dwight Howard also appears on the list 4 times. (all data taken from 1996 onwards).

The Unassisted Dunk

Let’s face it, that list is dominated by big men, while that’s exciting, there’s nothing as exciting as watching a small forward or guard weave through the lane and throw one down in traffic. Often this type of dunk is “unassisted”, so let’s sort all the leading dunkers by % of Dunks that didn’t get an assist. That should give us a list of some of the most exciting dunkers in the NBA since 1996.

All Time NBA Leaders
RankPlayerDunksAssist %
1Russell Westbrook59547%
2Kobe Bryant100158%
3Dwyane Wade109859%
4Vince Carter94161%
5Tracy McGrady73262%
6Giannis Antetokounmpo148463%
7Rudy Gay103963%
8LeBron James203364%
9Brendan Haywood79964%
10Trevor Ariza61366%

That’s more like it, Westbrook, Kobe, Wade, Vince, Tracy… explosive one on one players that got mega jams at the rim, over and over again. You’ll notice the absence of key names Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’neal, who would have taken assists on a great many of their dunks.

You’ll notice the presence of two names. Lebron and Giannis. High on the regular season list, high on the playoff list and high on the unassisted list. Pure. Dunk. Machines.

Here’s Kobe…