Who will win the dunk contest?

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shannon brown.jpg

The dunk contest isn’t easy to predict. The last two winners were a 5-9 guard and a 6-10 center, so there’s no one type of dunker that can be expected to win. Sometimes the best dunks come from sheer athleticism, some involve a flash of ingenuity and creativity, and Dwight Howard’s sticker dunk can have both and get a low score anyways. 
With all of that being said, here are my favorites to win:
1. Shannon Brown

Brown is an explosive leaper, is just small enough to give his dunks more dramatic effect, and can palm the ball like a softball, which helps him get lots of whip into his dunks. During his high school dunk contest, many people thought he had better dunks than LeBron James, who ended up beating Shannon with a conservative approach. Shannon is also the most buzzed-about contestant in this year’s field, and the “Let Shannon Dunk” movement could help him out when it comes time for the fans to elect a winner. 
2. DeMar DeRozan 

As everyone saw in last night’s dunk-off with Eric Gordon, DeRozan is an extremely fluid athlete with great ups. He made a reverse between-the-legs dunk look as easy as grabbing the mail, and easily dispatched Eric Gordon. The rookie won the high school dunk contest in 2008, with his best dunk being a tamer version of the off-the-backboard tap dunk Dwight Howard used in the finals of his 2008 NBA Dunk Contest win. DeRozan may have needed a dunk-off to make the field, but he has a great chance to pull off the upset and take the title.
3. Nate Robinson

The conventional wisdom is that the two-time champion might not have much more left in his bag of tricks, and that the novelty of seeing the 5-9 Robinson dunk may have worn off. There’s also been some backlash against the prop-filled, showy approach that Robinson used to win the contest last year. Still, Robinson is a two-time champion and clearly takes the contest very seriously, so he might have something impressive up his sleeve. 
4. Gerald Wallace

Wallace is almost definitely the best player in the dunk contest field, but probably a long shot to win the contest. Wallace certainly has the hops to take the trophy, but seems far too apathetic about the contest to have a chance against the guys who have been planning their dunks out for weeks. Of course, Wallace could just be playing mind games. 

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

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LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.