While most people are looking forward to Valentine’s Day this weekend, basketball fans everywhere are looking forward to the best All-Star event in sports – the NBA Slam Dunk contest. While a lot of people have written off the dunk contest due to lack of star power and too many gimmicks, it is back on the up-and-up after a great showing last year that saw rookie Zach LaVine put on the best show since Vince Carter in 2000. This year’s field of contestants is one of the most exciting and diverse groups in recent memory. It features Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic, and defending champion Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves. With so much talent, it’s hard to say who will come out on top.
Andre Drummond, Center, Detroit Pistons
Drummond is one of the most powerful in-game dunkers in recent memory. With his seven-foot frame he can bully people on the low block, but because he is uniquely athletic for someone of his size, he can get up and throw it down over just about anyone in the league. He is currently averaging 17.1 points, 14.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.5 blocks-per-game, and is the only All-Star in the field. Despite being the best player in the dunk contest, he will most likely lose this one and could easily finish fourth.
Aaron Gordon, Forward, Orlando Magic
People are excited to see Aaron Gordon enter the dunk contest because he is so similar to Blake Griffin when he won the dunk contest. Gordon was one of the most exciting dunkers of a class that featured Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine when he entered the league last year coming out of Arizona. While he spent most of his rookie year injured, he is looking healthy and dangerous on the court. Just take a look at some of his insane dunks this season. He is going to make an impression but this dunk contest is a two-man race.
Will Barton, Guard, Denver Nuggets
It appears that this is Will Barton’s breakout year, and what better way to announce you are here to stay by dethroning Zach LaVine in the dunk contest? Aside from being my pick for Sixth Man of the Year, Barton has played some quality minutes for the first time in his career and been the sole bright spot in another pedestrian season for the Nuggets. While Gordon and Drummond are both talented dunkers, Barton is the only one that has a chance to dethrone LaVine.
Zach Lavine, Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach LaVine is the best dunker in the NBA, without question. Yes, better than LeBron, better than Paul George, better than Blake Griffin — LaVine is the best dunker since Vince Carter in his prime. Last year, he had a lot of tricks up his sleeve so I can only imagine what the second year player out of UCLA has in store for everyone. The only way he loses is if Barton pulls something amazing out of his hat to stun the crowd and judges. Get your popcorn ready, because LaVine is putting on a show that will go down as one of the all-time best dunk contest performances.
PS: He just did this to the Chicago Bulls last night
Ok Zach. pic.twitter.com/sPjKp6in1c
— Lena (@azechka) February 7, 2016
*Photo credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports