The events of NBA All-Star Weekend continue on Saturday, as fans will watch the NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2017 from New Orleans, Louisiana. Defending champion, Zach Levine from the Minnesota Timberwolves won’t be around to defend his reign as two-time champ, leaving the door open for a brand new dunker extraordinaire. This year’s field features four participants, one of which nearly grabbed the championship trophy last year, making Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic the early favorite.
In year’s past, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest became synonymous with some of the biggest stars in the league, and even became a launching pad for newer stars. As noted in a Rolling Stone article, the legendary showdowns of Michael Jordan vs. Dominque Wilkins soon gave way to competitions where individual stars were able to dominate with an array of dunking feats. That included Boston’s Dee Brown dunking with his eyes covered by his arm, Phoenix’s Cedric Ceballos dunking with a blindfold on, and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin dunking over an actual car. Who will be the first to incorporate some real fire on the court?
Slam dunk contest winners over the years have included MJ, Spudd Webb, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Griffin, and most recently, Zach Levine. With Levine out of this year’s contest, here’s a look at the four participants vying for the 2017 dunk title.
Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic
Gordon is the front-runner as favorite to win this year’s competition. The Orlando Magic star came up on the losing side of last year’s dunk contest, but is looking ready to capture the title. The 21-year-old power forward is still coming into his own as a star on the Magic. While his stats of 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game aren’t really noteworthy, his fast breaks and in game dunks provide plenty of highlight reels. Last year’s array of dunks included Gordon bringing the Magic mascot onto the court for several interesting throw downs.
Gordon helped revive the dunk contest from mediocrity with his showing against winner Zach Levine last year. The runner-up has informed everyone despite the fact it seems like there are no dunks left in the bag of tricks, he should have a few things up his sleeve. Maybe having Blake Griffin inside a Kia will be amongst his props?
Derrick Jones Jr. – Phoenix Suns
Jones Jr. is the mystery man of tonight’s contest, as he’s seen little time on the court this season. That means fans are less familiar with his game, and it could give him the best shot at upsetting Gordon. However, based on the clip of the Pacers youngster that’s circulating on Twitter, it looks like he’s prepared to deliver a few throwdowns Saturday night.
Derrick Jones Jr is ready for the dunk contest ???????? pic.twitter.com/kriMywGXBO
— Ball Is Life™ (@BallOnIy) February 14, 2017
For those still wondering who he is, Jones is a 6-foot-7 small forward rookie out of UNLV. For the season, he’s participated in just seven games for the Suns and averaged a whopping 3.4 minutes of time on the court. While he has just 1.6 points per game, that’s more than enough to get a highlight dunk here or there. Fans will certainly be anticipating with Jones Jr. brings to tonight’s show.
DeAndre Jordan – LA Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers is the main big man in this year’s contest and probably the most “household name” of all contenders. Of the competitors, Jordan probably has the most impressive highlight reel of in-game dunks over his illustrious career in Los Angeles, but the dunk contest doesn’t tend to favor the bigger guys. Dwight Howard captured the win years ago with his Superman dunk gimmick, but it could be tough for Jordan to best more clever dunkers in this competition.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) February 16, 2017
With that said, Jordan does have guidance from one of the contest’s former winners, Blake Griffin. His Clippers teammate, who dunked over a parked Kia on the court to win the 2011 title, said for Jordan to “not miss any dunks.”
According to GQ, Griffin also provided advice for the entire field.
“When I was in the dunk contest, DeMar DeRozan actually did the dunk I was about to do before me. That was going to be my next dunk, so I was panicking when I went up for my turn. I was trying really hard to think what I was going to do.”
Glenn Robinson III – Indiana Pacers
Robinson, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Michigan, averages just over six points a game for Indiana. He’s bounced around between Minnesota and Philadelphia before landing with the Pacers and now will look to show his skills above the rim. He’s also the son of the “Big Dog” Glenn Robinson, a former All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks. He’ll enter tonight’s contest as the biggest underdog of the group, but in a field of four, that may not matter. A few mishaps from one of the favorites could open the door for Robinson to capture the trophy.
Glenn Robinson III with the 360 in game dunk ????????
How will he do in the Dunk Contest? pic.twitter.com/1YFLX8uSn4
— Michigan Videos (@MichVideos) February 16, 2017
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2017 edition is a part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night, which begins at approximately 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Viewers can catch all of the action including the three-point contest and skills challenge on TNT. The dunk contest will probably be near 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
To watch the NBA Slam Dunk Contest live streaming, cable and satellite TV viewers can log into the TNTDrama.com website or any compatible Watch TNT mobile apps. Viewers without cable or satellite who want to watch can check out Sling TV which offers TNT on their Sling Blue channel package. Sling currently offers a free one week trial for all new subscribers, which would also let viewers see Sunday night’s All-Star Game.
[Featured Image by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images]