How to Watch
- What: Slam Dunk Contest
- When: Saturday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. ET (third event of the night)
- Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
- TV: TNT
- Online, connected devices: Watch TNT App, TNT Overtime, Sling, Playstation Vue
It’s best to go ahead and admit this up front: Saturday’s Slam Dunk Contest will have its hands full matching the excitement generated by last year’s event in Toronto.
While the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest can’t match Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins in 1988 when it comes to star power and it falls slightly short of Vince Carter’s 2000 performance in terms of influential breakthroughs, Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon combined to deliver an all-time classic. The two 2014 lottery picks needed two tie-breaking overtime rounds to determine a winner, with LaVine finally besting Gordon 299-291 out of a possible 300 total points.
Can the 2017 contest build on that momentum, or will it flop back to Earth? Sadly, LaVine opted against the possibility of a highly-anticipated rematch with Gordon before the Timberwolves guard suffered a season-ending ACL tear earlier this month. LaVine’s absence therefore opens the door for Gordon, who many observers felt was snubbed last year, and three other first-time competitors: DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Glenn Robinson III (Pacers), and Derrick Jones (Suns).
Although the four-man field is somewhat light on name recognition, it offers good variety in style and physiques and absolutely shouldn’t be slept on. Gordon brings contest experience and a full bag of tricks. Jordan has a strong case as the most athletic 7-footer in the league with years of murderous “Lob City” finishes to his name. Robinson is a quick, smooth leaper who pounds the rim with force. And the freakish Jones, who has logged just 20 minutes this season through Tuesday, is best described as a “professional dunker” thanks to his creativity and pogostick bounce.
Here’s a handy how-to-watch guide, including a list of this year’s competitors:
|NBA Slam Dunk Contest Betting Odds|
|Aaron Gordon||Orlando Magic||-200|
|Derrick Jones Jr.||Phoenix Suns||+155|
|Glenn Robinson III||Indiana Pacers||+750|
|DeAndre Jordan||Los Angeles Clippers||+1200|
Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan carries the biggest name but the least likely odds to win the event. Should the 6’11” rim-rocker garner more respect than that? Unless he’s bringing teammate Chris Paul with him, OddsShark nailed it.
Jordan has a reputation of dunking on the opposition with minimal creativity. Of course, he’s simply looking to score two points and maybe draw a foul during the game. For a contest in which ingenuity tops everything else, don’t expect the Clippers center to advance to the final round.
Fortunately for Jordan, he likely accepted the invitation to the contest as fun and games while also celebrating his first All-Star Game as a reserve. Then again, he may surprise everyone and bring the big man back to prominence in the event.
2. Glenn Robinson III
Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III’s minutes and production have increased over the past two seasons with the team. He’s playing 21.8 minutes per game in 2016-17, averaging 6.0 points per contest.
On Saturday, Robinson could add a trophy to his young career portfolio. For those who tuned in to the NBA Summer League approximately a year-and-a-half ago, you might have come across the forward’s smooth 360 dunk, shown above.
Robinson looked casual finishing a fast break with a complete spin. His athleticism should remind spectators of Desmond Mason, who won the 2001 NBA Slam Dunk Contest in Washington D.C.
3. Derrick Jones Jr.
Phoenix Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. is the underdog dunker pegged as Gordon’s top competition. Take a quick look at the highlight video above to understand the hype behind a 19-year-old rookie averaging 3.3 minutes per game during the regular season.
The video highlights Jones’ athleticism and creativity on the finish. He shows the ability to contort his body and jam with smooth movement. The Suns forward looks like a natural when he’s creating poetry in motion. Some question whether the rookie will be equipped to shine under the bright lights. Jones can also view this contest as an opportunity to put his name on the radar without much to lose.
4. Aaron Gordon
Are you looking for a safe bet? The Orlando Magic‘s Aaron Gordon goes into this event as the clear-cut favorite due to his history. If not for a perfect final round for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine last year, Gordon would be defending his NBA Slam Dunk Contest title.
However, Gordon doesn’t have an established challenger in his way on Saturday. That doesn’t mean he’ll walk onto the court and cruise through the competition to hoist the trophy, though. He must show the same hang time and more creativity to keep his challengers at bay.
As shown in the highlight video above, Gordon leaps high enough to headbutt the rim. He’ll likely hop over at least two props during the contest. With an emphasis on his insane vertical, the Magic forward could take home the trophy that eluded him last year.
The time has come for the best dunkers in the NBA to take center stage. The Slam Dunk Contest is usually the marquee event on All-Star Saturday Night. It shouldn’t be any different this year. Although we have seen some duds in the past, last year’s runner up Aaron Gordon is looking to finally take home the trophy, which gives this year’s contest the potential to be highly entertaining.nba slam dunk competition 2017