For a lot of basketball fans, the highlight of All-Star Saturday night is the dunk contest. The NBA enlists some of the most athletic, high-flying individuals to come out and showcase the athleticism they’ve worked so hard to attain. Unfortunately, the dunk contest has seemed to have lost a lot of its entertainment value over the last couple of years because the guys that participate aren’t big-name stars.
In last year’s contest, Zach LaVine, Mason Plumlee, Victor Oladipo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo were the participants. Zach LaVine emerged as champion and unleashed a performance that rivaled that of Vince Carter‘s back in 2000. LaVine glided through the air to rock the rim on multiple occasions, going through his legs and around his back so effortlessly. It felt like LaVine singlehandedly brought the dunk contest back.
Luckily for fans, February 13th will be the return of Zach LaVine and the finesse & power that we saw on full display last year. He’ll be joined by Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, and Denver’s Will Barton, according to Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes. On paper, this year’s contest looks like it’ll be a wild one because of the athleticism these four bring to the arena. Drummond’s selection is probably the most interesting, as he’s pushing seven feet and is more of a power dunker; although Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin have shown what big men can do in the dunk contest.
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Aaron Gordon has been showing his athletic prowess since his high school days at Archbishop Mitty in San Jose, where he was a regular on BallIsLife. Now as a power forward with the Magic, Gordon continues to attack the rim relentlessly, and his size (6’9″) and athleticism allow him to dunk with power, finesse, or both depending on which he chooses.
For Denver’s Will “The Thrill” Barton, his performance this year has been hugely unexpected. The fourth-year player from the University of Memphis has electrified the Nuggets’ crowd on multiple occasions. Along with his good shooting ability, Barton has flashed us with incredible athleticism throughout the season, and should provide a formidable challenge to Zach LaVine.
Contrary to most of the recent dunk contests, I expect a thrilling event and Zach LaVine to repeat as champion.
You can watch the dunk contest on Saturday, February 13th at 8:30 on TNT as it’ll conclude All-Star Saturday Night.
*Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II / AP Photo*