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Opelka, Paul reveal which ATP stars can dunk a basketball
Published Nov 22, 2019
The end of the marathon tennis season is here, which means the NBA season is heating up. It’s no secret that plenty of the pros would trade in their Zoom’s and Vapor’s for a fresh pair of Kyrie’s or Lebron’s.
To celebrate the ballers, and lay rest the 2019 ATP season, Baseline spoke to hoopers Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka and Chris Eubanks to find out exactly who on the ATP Tour can and cannot dunk.
We separated the candidates into three categories: Obviously can dunk, Probably can dunk, and Should be able to dunk, but can’t.
For time’s sake, if a player was under 6’ tall, we operated under the assumption that the player could probably not dunk a regulation size basketball.
Not only can Monfils dunk, if the ATP Tour held a dunk contest, he would win. Who could match Monfils for style points? Nobody, that’s who.
Opelka is a legit 7-footer, he’s been dunking for a while and will probably still be dunking in his 50's. He has even hinted at a possible career switch. With his size and lateral movement, his game would translate well to the NBA.
"I'm not going to say he's good at basketball because he's 7 feet: Reilly's good at basketball," Eubanks told Baseline.
Opelka also has unexpected foot speed. For the doubters out there, he would like everyone to know that he once outran the speedy Tommy Paul in a 40-yard-dash.
Isner is listed at 6’10” but he seems even taller than that. Not only does Isner have a wet jumper, he can also dunk, easily.
In a 2014 Hopman Cup interview Isner said, “At 14 if someone told me I was going to be this tall I probably would have stuck with basketball.”
The Maple Leaf Missile has the strongest legs in the business. Not only can the 6’5” Raonic dunk, he has dunked, in an actual game with two hands (it was during the 2016 NBA All-Star Celebrity game). Dunking in a live game is at least three times harder than in practice.
It does help to have Tracy McGrady throw you a perfect leak-out pass.
At 40, the 6'11" Karlovic is still showing the young guns up on both the tennis and basketball court. He also apparently hates you if you can’t dunk.
Listed at 6’7” and 180 pounds, you would assume the Georgia Tech standout can easily dunk, but Opelka claimed: “Just barely, which is sad.”
On the Beyond the Baseline podcast, Coco Gauff said, "He claims he's good at basketball. We're going to see. He has the height, but I'm pretty sure he can't dunk even though he's 6'7"."
She'll be sharing a week-long training block with Eubanks in Boca Raton this off-season, and it sounds like a basketball lesson is coming her way as Eubanks was in disbelief at her comments.
"Coco has no right, no, I can't believe she would even come up and say something like that," Eubanks said, while referring to Gauff as his little sister. "For one, we've never been on the court together and two, I know for a fact, she is terrible...
"Follow my Instagram if you want to follow when we get on the basketball court," he added. "I'll make sure to post some videos."
Both Opelka and Paul agree that Nick Kyrgios can throw down. Kyrgios is an exceptional scorer, but former Deadspin tennis writer Giri Nathan told Baseline, “If Kyrgios could dunk, he would be posting videos every weekend.”
Good point, but maybe it's so standard for him, it's nothing to brag about. According to Paul and this Tennis Australia video, Kyrgios can definitely dunk.
At this stage of his career, perhaps Nadal doesn't want to risk dunking anymore. His 4 & 1/4” grip indicate small-ish hands, but Nadal is arguably the greatest athlete to ever step on a tennis court. A 2006 Rafael Nadal could easily dunk.
Nadal clearly has hops, but can he dunk? (Wall Street Journal)
With a height capping off at 6’6” and a massive wingspan, Zverev should have no trouble reaching a rim.
The only reason Tsonga is in this category? Lack of evidence. One of the best athletes to ever step on a court, we have to assume the Frenchman can dunk.
This one is a head scratcher, but Opelka swears that the 6’4” Fritz cannot dunk. “Which is shocking,” Opelka said.
It's another surprise entry, but Paul was quick to put the lovable Tiafoe on the can’t dunk list.
Last but not least, the hyper-athletic "TP" cannot dunk. He can get buckets, and he has the hops, but claims “his hands are too small too palm a basketball.”
Opelka was quick to point out, “That’s what everyone who can’t dunk says.”
Follow Cale on Twitter: @Cale_Hammond