The NBA's annual Rookie Photo Shoot would be wonderful enough if all it gave us was awkward still shots of each year's Kelly Olynyk. In recent years, though, the photo opp has turned into an impromptu dunk contest, with members of the rookie class strutting their stuff, showcasing their springs and instantly sharing the fruits of their labors via social media.
The rooks added an extra wrinkle to this summer's mid-shoot exhibition — a bit of a "can you top this?" competition featuring direct Twitter challenges. It all seems to have started with Minnesota Timberwolves second-rounder Glenn Robinson III calling out his new teammate, lottery-pick high-flyer Zach LaVine, to top this 360-degree windmill dunk:
The former Kansas standout responded in kind, making the act of getting airborne, spinning, switching hands behind your back and finishing look entirely too easy:
Here's another look at that from the baseline:
The dunking displays didn't stop, though, with Sacramento Kings guard Nik Stauskas getting creative on the floor before getting in the air:
... and Charlotte Hornets power forward Noah Vonleh looking awful springy in those super-cool purple-and-teal duds:
There was also quite a bit of teamwork at the shoot, with multiple freshmen-to-be showing off their love of the extra pass to set up a fellow rook for a furious finish. The young Wolves who lit the candle on the competition showed their love of sharing, with Robinson III setting up LaVine:
... and LaVine returning the favor:
Celtics draftee Smart set aside future Atlantic Division beef to set up Brooklyn Nets second-rounder Markel Brown, his former Oklahoma State teammate, for a whirling slam:
Atlanta Hawks big man Adreian Payne got to be the beneficiary of multi-pass work on a couple of occasions, with Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton and Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle doing the honors once:
... and a handful of fellow rooks — Payton, New York Knicks wing Cleanthony Early, Celtics swingman James Young, Randle and Magic forward Aaron Gordon — setting him up for another:
The crispest three-way dance came courtesy of former Michigan men Stauskas, Oklahoma City Thunder big man Mitch McGary and Robinson III:
McGary proved to be quite a nimble facilitator for a 6-foot-10, 255-pounder, offering a soccer-inspired feed to fellow OKC draft pick and future D-Leaguer Josh Huestis:
McGary's most triumphant work, however, came in this unparalleled feat of athleticism and acrobatics:
I'm not sure that tops McGary's flawless floor work, but it's an admirable attempt, if nothing else.
Back to the aforementioned Ennis: Since the Suns point guard couldn't match his north-of-the-border-bro Wiggins in feats of aerial assault, he decided to introduce H-O-R-S-E style shot-making into the proceedings:
Ennis' trip behind the basket opened the door for some of the not-quite-as-high-flying members of the Class of 2014 to get in on the fun. Rodney Hood of the Utah Jazz checked in from the not-so-short corner:
Chicago Bulls sharpshooter Doug McDermott offered his spin on Kobe Bryant's favorite H-O-R-S-E shot:
The San Antonio Spurs' Kyle Anderson got a little trickier (and, to be fair, a little closer, too) with his take:
Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, went behind the back:
... and Miami Heat point guard Shabazz Napier topped him by making Parker's short shot from long distance (albeit on his sixth try):
And last, but certainly not least, here's recuperating Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, walking boot and all, taking a page out of the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's book:
My personal quick picks for best of the bunch: the Smart-to-Brown Oklahoma State connection, the Michigan three-man weave, Napier's behind-the-back heave and, of course, McGary's tumble. Feel free to share yours in the comments below.
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