NBA Dunk Contest Primer
If this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest had a theme it would be “Athletic Big Men”, with three of the four competitors taller than 6-10 or above. In past contests the big guys entered with a disadvantage because of the perception it was “easier” and “less exciting” to watch a big guy dunk. The playing field will finally be evened this year, but could also set the stage for 6-7 DeMar DeRozan to steal the show. With each competitor being just 21 years old, whoever wins would take the first step in establishing their own Sprite Slam Dunk Contest legacy.
I think it would be cool if he could incorporate a dunk where he hits his head on the backboard like he did this week in Minnesota. Griffin’s overall talent and superior leaping ability combined with the fact he is 6-10 has led to 26.6 percent of his made shots this season being converted via dunks. The odds-on favorite in general and to the tune of about 70% on our own HoopsVibe poll, if this were a popularity contest Griffin would win easily. But anything can happen with a field as athletically talented as this one, especially considering how much of an underdog the other competitors are, which has to rile them up at least a little bit. Check out the clip below to see why he’s the favorite.
Ibaka is probably the most raw of the group but because of the unpredictability factor and nonstop motor, could also be the most exciting. The 6-10 inch native of the Republic of Congo is the first player from his home country to be drafted to the NBA. His length and energy output made Ibaka one of six players in the NBA averaging more than two blocks per game, even in limited minutes (25.8 mpg).
The tallest competitor at 7-0, McGee isn’t your dad’s seven -ooter, i.e. Will Perdue or Jon Koncak. More of a slasher type, McGee played the three spot in college and occasionally the four, making him a matchup nightmare. Playing in just his second year in the league, 48.1 percent of his field goals made this year are dunks. Interesting side note: McGee’s mother Pamela McGee played in the WNBA for two seasons, making JaVale the first son of a WNBA player to play in the NBA.
DeRozan got as close as you can to winning the 2010 Sprite Dunk Contest, but ultimately lost to Nate Robinson. NBA fans voted on the winner and Robinson edged DeRozan by a 2% margin with the vote o 51% to 49%. Even though DeRozan finished second last year, the NBA didn’t include him in the contest originally, but got the invite to fill in for Bucks guard Brandon Jennings due to injury. DeRozan’s frame (6-7, 220) mixed with his agility and athleticism make him the physical prototype for an NBA Dunk Contest contestant. Also playing in just his second season, DeRozan won the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Competition in 2008.
(Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lovehannahan)