If 2016 was the rebirth of the dunk contest, 2017 feels like a referendum on it.
With four dunkers, most of whom no one is excited about, the competition seems to be once again on its last legs. This just a year after Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine gave us in Toronto an overtime show of some of the best dunks we’ve ever seen.
Gordon is back, but LaVine refused to defend the crown before injuring his ACL. LaVine’s seaosn is now over.
The fact that we have been robbed of a rematch of two of the best dunkers ever is a travesty of the highest proportions.
What we are left with is Gordon back looking for redemption, and three first-time dunk contest participants.
Although nobody is expecting MJ vs Dominique redux, this year’s even playing field and unknown approaches for the participants, does add some intrigue.
Here’s a closer look at this year’s participants:
No step Vertical: 34
Max Vertical: 42.5
Derrick Jones is the man of mystery in the competition as he was best known for competing in the D league when he was named a contestant.
He has been getting steady minutes with Phoenix of late and using the pregame warm-up as his own dunk champion campaign trail:
Glenn Robinson III
No step Vertical: 36.5
Max Vertical: 41.5
Robinson doesn’t play many minutes, but when he does, he dunks.
He’s also been teasing what he might do:
The son of the Big Dog has shown off 360 hops before, so expect that to be part of his arsenal on Saturday.
No step Vertical: 26
Max Vertical: 30.5
Jordan might be the first man to win the competition solely off of alley-oop dunks. Finally recognized as an all-star, the loveable centre may win the crowd and thus, the competition. Nothing he does in the competition will match him eending Brandon Knight’s career with this flush.
As the event’s resident big man, his dunks won’t look as challenging, but he’ll have the antithetical crowd behind him. As a dunker, he profiles closer to JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard then he does to bigs who have struggled like Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee and Chris Anderson.
No step Vertical: 32.5
Max Vertical: 39
Gordon is the overwhelming favourite. Although he was the runner-up last year, he finished the night as the people’s champion with the best two dunks in the competition and arguably one of the best dunks ever.
It took him six dunk to get through the competition last year. The question is how many more great dunks can he dream up and how much will a bruised right foot impede him?
Gordon is not the best in game dunker of the group but to win this competition you have to be a showman and sell your dunks, something Gordon excels at.