A wise man once said "Jumpman, jumpman, jumpman, them boys up to something"
When NBA fans look back at the history of the Slam Dunk contest, they are usually quick to point out Michael Jordan's dunk in 1988 from the free-throw line as one of their all-time favorites. While that's not exactly going out on a limb, you can never go wrong with choosing Jordan as a choice to rank No. 1 in anything basketball related. He made all his attempts look graceful and as dynamic as he could have ever hoped.
For me, the year was 2000. The Vince Carter era. I remember it like it was yesterday. He put Toronto on the map in the basketball world.
Through the legs, 360-degree windmill jam, sticking his arm in the rim up to his elbow. No one had seen that done before with such power and authority. For me, there will never be a dunk contest comparable to the one that happened in Oakland in 2000.
Fast forward to the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest.
The field for this event is made up of Zach LaVine (-300) who looking to defend his title against a slew of newcomers, including Aaron Gordon (+400), Will Barton (+550) and Andre Drummond (+850).
Zach LaVine (-300)
The reigning Slam Dunk Champion comes into this year's event as the odds-on favorite to defend his title. It should not shock anyone to see such a hefty price on LaVine considering he dominated last year's participants as a 19-year-old rookie. He has the amazing capability of getting off the floor in a hurry with power (something we call hops) and to gracefully stay in the air for an extra second or two to finish his dunks.
He wowed the judges last year with scores of 50 (x2), 49 and a 45 on his four dunks.
He is on record for saying "I still have some tricks up my sleeve," but I think the NBA world has seen just about enough of his through-the-legs dunks. While nice occasionally, they tend to lose their appeal. Because of that reason I will look elsewhere for a Slam Dunk winner.
Aaron Gordon (+400)
This is the first entry of two "big-men" taking part in the contest. Aaron Gordon is quietly having himself a great season as his role with the Magic is increasing on a game-to-game basis. He's listed at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, and his highlight-reel dunks from the regular season are above average. He has a measured 43-inch vertical, which will help his cause if he wants to hang around with LaVine. However, like Will Barton, he is an unknown to those outside of Orlando. In my opinion; there is not enough of a price to even consider backing him.
Will Barton (+550)
No offense to Will, but he takes this years "Who is this Guy" award. While many folks around the NBA will not have a clue who he is, this could be his coming-out party.
You don't get the nickname "Will the Thrill" for absolutely no reason at all. When you are on record for doing this and this, you have a great opportunity for putting the NBA on notice. At 6-foot-6, 175 pounds soaking wet, he is known as more of a glider than a rim rocker. I can't see a relative unknown taking the title in a contest where name recognition and popularity reign supreme (looking at you Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin).
Andre Drummond (+850)
One of the better NBA All-Star campaigns I've seen in a while. Thank you, Drizzy.
Drummond is the second big man in this contest. And while competitive dunking may not be a big-man's bread and butter, showmanship could carry him to the 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Title. There is only one thing Canadians love more than anything in this entire world -- maple syrup (just kidding) -- they love having the ability to staking claim to something. In this case, Drake. Drummond's dunks do not necessarily have to be spectacular; he just has to play the crowd (see Dwight Howard 2008). If Drummond incorporates the "6-God" in any way and can nail his creative dunk attempts on the first attempt, we could be looking at a new Slam Dunk Champion
Pick: Andre Drummond (+850)
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