Wizards

Wizards had so many poster dunks vs. Lakers

Wizards
Rui Hachimura dunks on Anthony Davis

The Wizards have not been a team known for their dunking in recent years, to the degree that when Daniel Gafford arrived in a trade deadline deal last month, it was pretty clear he was going to walk into their locker room and instantly be the best dunker on the team. It just hasn't been their thing.

But you wouldn't have known that just by watching Wednesday's win over the Lakers when they produced not one, not two but three poster dunks, plus a dunk from Ish Smith which comes around about as often as cicada invasions in the DMV.

The first was by Gafford, who reached back and showed no mercy on Kyle Kuzma. The second was by Chandler Hutchison, who nearly jumped over the 6-foot-4 Talen Horton-Tucker. And the third was the most jaw-dropping of all, Rui Hachimura all over Anthony Davis, one of the best rim protectors in the NBA. Davis crashed into the bottom of the hoop and came up holding his face, seemingly in disbelief over what had just happened.

All four were so good, so highlight-worthy in their own right, that afterwards there were mixed opinions over which one was the best.

"Ish was the one. I would give it [to him], he had the best dunk," Hachimura said.

"I thought Hutchison’s one was great. He got really high on that one. Hutchison’s was the craziest one," Alex Len said.

 

Hachimura said there was some foreshadowing for Smith's dunk, which was his first since the 2017-18 season when he was with the Pistons. Smith, in fact, usually avoids dunking in games to prevent injuries, as he told NBC Sports Washington last season.

Hachimura, though, had a feeling one was coming.

"It’s funny, in the first half I was talking to somebody like ‘he can dunk, Ish can dunk.’ He actually did it in the second half," Hachimura said.

It turns out dunking was kind of contagious for the Wizards on Wednesday. Hachimura said once Gafford started it, he felt compelled to follow suit.

"[Hutchison] was dunking, D.G. was dunking, so I thought I had to do it, too," Hachimura said.

Hachimura ended up throwing down on a guy three inches taller than him, with a never-ending wingspan and the shot-blocking instincts to match. Climbing the mountain to dunk on Davis is about as difficult as it gets in the NBA.

Hachimura also isn't exactly known for putting players on posters. He has a few nice dunks in his brief career so far, but is not likely to ever be invited to the dunk contest.

In fact, he didn't even know it went in.

"First, I thought I missed it. I had no idea what was going on. I looked and Russ was laughing and then everybody was kind of flexing on it. It was one of those, I always get blocked, so I had to finish the shot," he said.

Westbrook has taken Hachimura under his wing this season as a leader on the Wizards. And in this particular moment, he helped him out by making him realize he had just completed one of the best plays of his career so far.

"When Rui’s playing aggressive at the rim, he’s sneaky athletic. He sneaks people. A lot of times, people don’t know he’s capable of doing that. I was screaming because he didn’t know what was happening," Westbrook said.

The Wizards happened to have this dunk party during their first game on national television since 2019. That's good timing.