In recent years, what it means to be an NBA power forward has changed somewhat. You almost never see two true 7-footers in the same lineup, and it’s also rare to see a frontcourt pairing that doesn’t feature at least one player with some shooting range. No team is a better example of this than the Magic, who won the East last season by pairing Dwight Howard with long-range gunner Rashard Lewis in their starting frontcourt.
However, if Andrew Bynum and Shaquille O’Neal are healthy come playoff time, the Lakers and Cavaliers will have a lot of size to throw at the Magic, not to mention the tandem of Perkins and Garnett on the Celtics. To counter this, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy may consider using center Marcin Gortat as a backup power forward to create a giant frontcourt of doom, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. (Link via Orlando Pinstriped Post):
“Van Gundy took a pre-playoff look at backup center Marcin Gortat at power forward a little earlier in the stretch-run than expected.
Gortat joined Howard early in the second period, replacing Brandon Bass, and played for seven minutes. He had a nice steal, a turnover and a foul.
Van Gundy said he would look at Bass, Gortat and Ryan Anderson in certain situations with the season dwindling down.”
Since the hand-check rules were implemented, perimeter-oriented bigs and small-ball lineups have become more and more prevalent in the NBA. But when the league’s top teams face off in this year’s playoffs, we could easily see an old-fashioned battle of giants facing off in the frontcourt.
Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)
Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.
Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.
Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest
In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.
And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.
The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.
There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)
“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”
The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.
“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”
So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.
Gordon was close to perfect.
Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.
Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk
TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night: