NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest Betting Odds and Expert Predictions
The NBA season has been nothing short of a soap opera over the last month or so. There are just too many storylines to touch on without making this piece over 3,000 words, so let's just stick to the main talking points. The first: the Cavs just traded their entire roster and got better. The second: the Warriors are complaining they are tired and are desperately trying to get into the break on a winning note. The third: nobody is talking about the upcoming All-Star weekend. Besides the untelevised 'draft' that took place and the fact that everyone on LeBron James' team is getting injured, I haven't heard a single mention of how exciting it's going to be, despite being in LA - which is the mecca for overhyping events.
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This year's dunk contest may be able to save All-Star weekend. It features four guys who are relatively unknown amongst casual fans, but that will change after Saturday night. I know it sucks that the days of star players taking part in this contest are basically over - No more Jordan in his prime , or Vin-sanity moments, no more Mamba mentality or 5'9" freaks of nature jumping over 7'0" guys , but we have to make the best of the situation, and I believe this year's contestants will leave you at the edge of your seat wanting more.
Before we get into breaking down the contestants, let me remind you how the dunk contest works. The contest is a two-round event that gives each of the four players a chance to execute any dunk of their choosing without a time limit. Each player will have up to three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first and final rounds. Dunks are scored on a scale of six to 10, with the minimum being 30 and the maximum being 50 points.
Now let's take a closer look at the field and try to determine who has the best shot at winning this thing. All odds are courtesy of Bovada .
Dennis Smith Jr. (+170)
Dennis Smith Jr. has been the standout rookie so far this season. It's just a shame he plays for the lowly Mavericks. Smith Jr. is averaging 14.8 points and 4.8 assists per game, which is only going to improve as the first-year player gets more games under his belt.
However, his spot in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest is no fluke. Smith Jr. lives above the rim, and he has the flair and aggressiveness to take home the drunk crown in his first try. Dunks like these will remind you how amazing it is to see smaller guys dunk the ball with such authority. He is the clear favorite, and it's going to be tough for anyone to out-dunk him.
Donovan Mitchell (+220)
In my opinion, Mitchell should have been one of the first four slam dunk contestants named. Instead, he is taking part in this year's contest as an injury replacement to Aaron Gordon, who pulled out due to a hip injury.
Mitchell is having himself an amazing rookie season. The first-year player out of Louisville has put himself into contention for Rookie of the Year by averaging 19.2 points per game, 3.4 assists per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 1.5 steals per game. He even has two 40-point performances this season. Mitchell's bread and butter, though, is his dunking ability. With dunks like these, his ability to live above the rim should bode well for him to compete and potentially take home the 2018 Slam Dunk crown.
Larry Nance Jr. (+265)
Nance Jr. was born to dunk. He is the son of Larry Nance, who was the winner of the inaugural Slam Dunk contest in 1984. Nance Jr. comes into this event on the heels of being traded from a bad Lakers team to a Cavaliers team who is in contention for an NBA Championship. That motivation alone should be enough for Nance Jr. to pull out all the tricks and impress not only the NBA world but his new teammates as well.
However, big men typically don't get the love they deserve from the judges. Nance Jr. stands at 6'9, which makes him the tallest competitor in this event. If he can take dunks like these and add some flair to them, it's possible he could chalk one up for the 'bigs'.
Victor Oladipo. (+400)
Oladipo has had a career resurgence since being traded from Oklahoma City to Indiana. Oladipo is averaging 24.3 points per game, and he is one of the leaders on a Pacers team that currently sits sixth in the Eastern Conference.
This will be Oladipo's second Slam Dunk contest. He finished as the runner up in 2016 to Zach LaVine. If Oladipo can recreate some of his best dunking moments like this perfect score 360 or the dunk that captured him the "Dunk of the Year" award last season, he may be able to add a Slam Dunk crown to go along with his runner-up finish.
If you've never seen a Mavericks game, I don't blame you. But if there ever was a reason to put yourself through 48 minutes of terrible basketball, it's to watch Dennis Smith Jr. play. He is the only bright spot on a bad Mavericks team, and him winning the dunk contest would put an exclamation mark on his rookie season. In my opinion, the only man that can go dunk-for-dunk with him would be Oladipo. We all see what he was capable of in the 2016 dunk contest, so that experience could prove valuable on the big stage. I hate to side with the favorite in a contest that is based on popularity and flair, but Smith Jr has the tools in the toolbox to take home this year's edition of the NBA dunk contest.
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