By Gordon Robinson
In years past NBA All Star Weekend has been more flop than flash. This year appears to be more exciting with The Slam Dunk Contest going back to a traditional style, the Three Point Contest is stacked with shooters and the All Star Game itself is as deep as it has ever been. This year’s game is so deep that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is discussing expanding the rosters in the future. With the fun to watch Shooting Stars and Skills Competition, factor in the pageantry of being in New York and this year’s All Star Weekend could be one of the best.
This year’s Slam Dunk Competition doesn’t boast the most talent that we have ever seen but it does present some young talent that will definitely electrify the crowd. Also, the contest is going back to the more traditional format with two rounds to decide a champion. Each player will get three attempts to complete the dunk, there will be two dunks in the first round and the dunkers with the highest scores will move on to the finals. In the finals, competitors will be scored from their next two dunks in head to head format to decide a winner. No more of this East vs. West nonsense, watching a bunch of practice dunks and then a sudden ending without anyone realizing that the contest is over while the “Dunker of the Night” is being awarded. Hopefully the days are over where there is a running clock and dunkers get to make three dunks in 30 seconds and this new “old” format will let us get back to being innovative and athletic.
The guys participating in this year’s event should intrigue most viewers that follow the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks is long, athletic and should be able to make any dunk in the book. He is known around the league as “The Greek Freak” due to his 6’11” frame with guard skills and athleticism. If he wins, Giannis would be the first Milwaukee Buck and the first international player to win the title.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ rookie Zach LaVine may be the early favorite. He has an impressive resume if you look him up on the internet. His 6’5” frame appears to be built for this very competition.
Second year guard Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic is explosive on his dunks during in-game action. It will be interesting to see if those dunks can translate over to competition form.
Finally, Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets will take stage on his home floor to attempt to become the fourth player to win the title on his home court. Plumlee is 6’11” and may not be as athletic as the other three guys so I expect him to make most of his dunks off of alley-oops and off the bounce.
Hopefully, by bringing back the traditional format it will allow for a deeper talent pool and the Slam Dunk Competition can get back to being the premier competition outside of the game itself.