2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Predictions with Betting Odds and Picks
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 more than 3,000 words, so let's just stick to the main talking points. The Raptors kind of don't need Kawhi Leonard. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but they are doing just fine without him this season. In fact, they are second overall in the Eastern Conference fine, despite people claiming they are going to be a lottery team this season because Leonard left. What a great take that was. In other news, the Lakers are for real and might very well win the NBA title this year, Luka Doncic has been and will continue to be must-see TV, the Knicks aren't the worst team in the league this year (surprising), and there were some extremely questionable trades made prior to the deadline. But I digress, let's talk about this year's NBA Slam Dunk contest - an event I am looking forward to with great anticipation.
This year's contest features some well-versed Dunk Contest participants as three of the four guys have won or finished runner-up. 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.
Aaron Gordon (+135)
For as great as Zach LaVine was in the 2009 NBA Dunk Contest in Toronto, Aaron Gordon absolutely held his own and could have very well won that contest instead of finishing second. If you don't remember the authority and creativeness in which Gordon put on display, check out the highlights by clicking here.
But now we move forward into 2020, and I think Gordon is rightfully the deserving favorite. He's big, but not that big where everything looks forced. He's agile enough and has enough hops to get well above the rim, which in turn provides him with enough hang time to complete many unique and difficult dunks. Just check out this dunk he had in-game against the Lakers at 34 seconds.
Derrick Jones Jr. (+150)
Derrick Jones Jr. is another contestant who's been a runner up in this contest before. He came second in 2017 to Glen Robinson III of Indiana but had several memorable dunks in that one. Jones, who's been nothing more than a rotation player over his first five seasons in the league (8.7 points per game this year with the Heat), has a vertical that hasn't been seen in quite some time. Jones can essentially jump out of the building on any leap and with authoritative dunks like this one (:34-seconds).
For those of you who want to relieve what Jones is capable in a dunk contest, here is the 2017 dunk recap for your viewing pleasure.
Pat Connaughton (+400)
Speaking of being able to jump out of the building at any given moment, Connaughton recorded a 44-inch vertical during the NBA combine in 2015 - which is the second-highest mark in the history of the combine. His jumping ability, combined with the fact that nobody knows who he is, could be the perfect storm in terms of delivering the "wow" factor when throwing down dunks.
I mean just look at his highlight real dunks and tell me with a straight face you expected that from a 6-foot, 4-inch white dude who went to Notre Dame of all schools.
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Dwight Howard (+450)
Dwight Howard is a former NBA Dunk Contest champion, so he should know a thing or two about getting the job done in this contest. In 2008, when he won, Howard played up to his "Superman" nickname and brought down the house with a vicious one-handed dunk from just inside the free-throw line wearing a Super Man outfit (3:34).
This year, Howard is getting to tag along for the ride on LeBron James' and Anthony Davis' coattails in LA, but at 34, and a lot less bouncy, Howard is a long shot to claim his second slam dunk crown.
I just hope everyone in this contest has fun and enjoys the moment and doesn't mess up the same dunk over and over again. I'm kidding, I'm taking Aaron Gordon in this one because I feel like he's owed an NBA Dunk title and as I mentioned above, his ability to make unique and difficult dunks look smooth and powerful is second to none. The price is a little shorter than I would have liked given the fact it's a dunk contest based on a not so scientific way of judging the dunks, but I'll throw a couple of bucks down to make the night pass with more entertainment.
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