We’ve heard a lot of talk about what has happened to the dunk contest. Some say it needs more star players, that all the dunks have been done, and that it just isn’t the same when it features guys who rarely get off the benches for their respective teams.
But I don’t buy into that.
There’s something to be said for a great, high quality dunk, whether it’s been done before or not. And the guys in this contest may be able to repeat dunks in the past—and do them better.
That’s because this year’s event features two contestant with out of this world hops who appear to be jumping off a trampoline every jump: James White and Gerald Green.
Green was shown with the top of his neck at rim level earlier this season, and he’s said he’s unsure what his vertical is. He says it could be as high as 50-inches, but he hasn’t tested it. The dunk below shows he can look down into the rim with his whole head above the cylinder, and he did that in a game.
The amazing part is that Green (4/1) is the third-most favorited to win the contest, behind White (5/4), and also Terrence Ross (7/2) of the Toronto Raptors.
Ross has been one of the most exciting game dunkers this season. He’s got out on the break in games and done some dunks that guys do in actual contests, and that indicates that better things may be possible when there’s no risk of blowing two points. Ross gets up as high as Green and White, it seems, and may do something that shows it tonight.
White is another example of a guy who did a pre-existing dunk and did it better. White dunked from a foot beyond the free throw line in previous dunk contests, a feat which is sure to earn a ’50′ from the experts panel.
And yet, as amazing as that is: None of those three players are guaranteed to win the competition. There are more good dunkers still in Eric “Mini LeBron” Bledsoe (5/1), last year’s champion Eric Bledsoe and none other than the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge, Kenneth “The Manimal” Faried (8/1).
Bledsoe is called “Mini LeBron” for the strength he possesses while dunking and his all out fierce attitude when going toward the rim. He does a lot of other LBJ-esque things, including chase down blocks, and the like. He’ll put on a show, but his in game dunks don’t tend to be so fancy. It’s unclear what he can do when trying to be stylish.
Faried had 40 points and 10 rebounds in the game, while throwing down 10 dunks. When speaking to Craig Sager after the broadcast, he indicated it “Was nothing compared to what you’ll see tomorrow night.”
Faried is one of two underdogs, and he will still should put on a show. The field is that strong.
Faried’s 8/1 odds are matched by last year’s defending champion Jeremy Evans is tied with Faried to be the heaviest underdog. Was there ever a time a defending champ was considered tied for the biggest underdog in the event?
My pick is Gerald Green. The “Cupcake dunk” was one of the best I’d ever seen, and though the panel on TNT (that featured Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber and Steve Kerr) said that the use of all the props and theatrics is a drawback, I find it great.
Green also threw down a dunk last year with the then-New Jersey Nets in which he wound up for a windmill at a height which seemed to have his shoulders at rim level. It sees like video game theatrics, and it’s real.
That’s why Green is my pick. White has equally impressive vertical leap, but it seems that Green does things that just don’t seem real.