The 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner will be decided by something other than judges this year. In fact, there will not even be an individual winner decided by score cards. While fan voting will determine the “Dunker of the Night”, the format for the Sprite Slam Dunk contest this year is about teams, East versus West.
While fans have come to appreciate the individual talen associated with the NBA’s premiere All-Star weekends event, 2014 will be about adapting to rooting for a team. Three dunkers from the Eastern Conference and three dunkers from the Western Conference face off for a two round dunk fest. Here’s the breakdown, complete with new rules.
Eastern Conference Dunkers
The East will feature two dunk contest veterans, Paul George and Terrence Ross. Ross, last year’s winner, is considered by many to be the favorite heading into the night. His nightly antics with the Toronto Raptors are featured so often on ESPN, he gets more airtime than most of the anchors. His most recent in game jam absolutely posterized Kenneth Faried.
Paul George got the dunk contest conversation going back in January with his reverse 360 windmill against the Clippers. His only other appearance in the event was in 2012, when his glow in the dark dunk left everyone scratching their heads. Now a fully legitimate superstar, George’s name recognition could help him land the title of dunker of the night.
John Wall finishes out the Eastern Conference team. Also an All Star this year, Wall is not known as much for his dunking prowess. But the six foot four point guard is explosive on the break and labels himself a “dunk contest” dunker.
Western Conference Dunkers
The West features one All Star, Damian Lillard, who is also competing in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday night as the defending champion. Harrison Barnes and rookie Ben McLemore round out the Western team, who appears to be at a sizable disadvantage.
Lillard, like Wall, is a smaller point guard known for his explosive tendencies. Not much of an in game dunker, his dark horse potential is high.
Harrison Barnes, a former UNC Tarheel, has a tall and slender frame. Players built like him have often performed well in the NBA Dunk Contest. While he has not been known for his high flying game, the crowd might be surprised by what the Warriors forward brings to the table.
Ben McLemore has been struggling to gain playing time in Sacramento. But that has not stopped the first year player from creating some hype heading into Saturday night’s event. He is reportedly working on a 720 slam dunk, the Big Foot of dunk contests. If he can complete a dunk of that magnitude, he will go down as a legend.
Rather than each dunker going and getting a score, the first round of the contest will be a freestyle round. Each conference will have 90 seconds of non stop dunking where all the teammates will complete as many dunks as possible. Judges will declare one conference the winner of round one.
Round two, the battle round, will then pit one dunker from each conference against one dunker from the other. In a sudden death style dunk off, the loser of the match ups takes a seat. The competition will continue until one conference gets three wins.
Fans will determine the individual “Dunker of the Night” by voting through text messaging, Twitter, NBA.com, and the NBA Gametime app.
So who do you think will be the winner of the 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest?