Blake Griffin

Dunk Contest preview: What’s with all the big guys?

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You know why Nate Robinson and Spud Webb won the dunk contest? Because we love to see the little guys who can get up. We mere mortals identify with guys who are not quite six foot jumping over Dwight Howard and throwing it down.

This year’s Saturday night Dunk Contest? Battle of the big guys. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka are 6’10”, JaVale McGee comes in at 7’0” even. The “little guy” this time around is 6’7” DeMar DeRozan.

It’s a little surreal,” McGee told PBT Friday. “I never thought I’d be in the dunk contest, especially being as tall as I am….

“I feel big guys can do the same thing little guys can do, it just looks easier, and maybe that’s why it’s lower scoring. But it’s just as hard for big guys, we’ve got more weight and a lot of stuff.”

Of course, the Dunk Contest might have gone the way of the Dodo if not for a big guy — Dwight Howard revived it with a combination of power and creativity a few years back. Maybe we are in for a show. Griffin gives us all hope.

Let’s break it down.

Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers): He’s the favorite, the viral video sensation that pretty much owns YouTube by now. (Well, him and cats that play the piano.) The guy is ferocious in game, running the break and pointing for the ally-oop. Not letting any mere mortal — say, Timofey Mozgov, for example — get in his way. He can dunk with either hand and leap of two feet or one. He’s got all the skills.

Here’s what we don’t know: How creative will he be? Shannon Brown is a great in-game dunker who fell flat last season when it came time to do staged dunks in an exhibition. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Griffin enjoys this kind of stage. If so, it could be one for the ages.

DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors): Do not sleep on this guy — he came in second last year in what was a disappointing contest. Did he learn anything from that? He has the athletic skills, and we do love the little guy (even if the little guy is 6’7”).

JaVale McGee (Washington Wizards): He has the leaping ability, the athleticism, the length to put on a show for the ages. He’s also not exactly know for focus. ESPN’s John Hollinger had the best line: “He could win this thing or he could pull up for a 17-foot jumper.”

Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder): He certainly can jump, but it’s usually to block shots. He doesn’t have the power or pure athleticism to outdo the others in this competition, his only hope is to go Carrot Top and become a prop dunker.

Report: Bulls hire North Carolina State’s Bobby Lutz as D-League head coach

WORCESTER, MA - MARCH 18:  Charlotte 49ers coach Bobby Lutz looks up in the first half a game against the N.C. State Wolfpack during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at the DCU Center March 18, 2005 in Worcester, Massachusetts.  (Photo By Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Bulls are one of the teams getting a D-League affiliate franchise this season. The Windy City Bulls will play in the suburb of Hoffman Estates, and now they have a head coach: North Carolina State assistant Bobby Lutz.

Via Upside & Motor‘s Chris Reichert:

Lutz was previously linked to the Bulls’ D-League job in July but there was confusion as to whether he would actually get the job. Now, it appears he has. And he has familiarity with the coaching staff, having served as an assistant coach at Iowa State under Fred Hoiberg in 2010-11, prior to going to NC State.

Evan Fournier pokes fun at his ‘NBA 2K’ likeness

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 07:  Evan Fournier #10 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 7, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.

Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.

At least they’re having fun with it.

Report: Sixers expected to waive Tibor Pleiss after trade with Jazz

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Tibor Pleiss #21 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.

Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.

Jordan releases new Russell Westbrook ad, may include a shot at Kevin Durant

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (L) and Russell Westbrook #0 look on during a press conference after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-101 in game six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”

Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.