The 2018 NBA Slam Dunk Contest is one of the most-anticipated events on All-Star Weekend, and this year we’ll have a returning runner-up trying to fend off some of the league’s best dunkers.
On Thursday the league announced that 2016 second place finisher Aaron Gordon will go up against Victor Oladipo, Dennis Smith Jr., and Larry Nance Jr.
That’s a small field of contestants, but no doubt the league is trying to cut back on downtime as fans have lagged in anticipation of the once-heralded event over the years.
Per the NBA, here are the rules:
In the two-round event, participants can perform any dunk they choose. The players have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first round and the final round. Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a high score of 50 and a low score of 30.
All four competitors get two dunks in the first round. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round. The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the champion.
Although 2017 might have been forgettable (Glenn Robinson III won), we did see one of the best dunk contests we’ve seen in years in 2016 as Zach LaVine and Gordon went head-to-head. LaVine came out on top thanks to three straight perfect scores. The Chicago Bulls guard just returned to action from injury and so it makes sense the two-time winner won’t be back to try to block Gordon once again.
Meanwhile, Smith Jr. is one of the league’s best two-footed leapers, Oladipo is incredibly athletic, and Nance Jr. is an incredible in-game dunker.
Saturday has some serious potential, y’all.
The Memphis Grizzlies now have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Many believe that Memphis will trade Mike Conley and draft Ja Morant as a means to move the franchise forward.
The only problem? The Grizzlies still don’t have a head coach.
Memphis fired coach J.B. Bickerstaff and demoted general manager Chris Wallace to scout back in April. The Grizzlies are moving forward with some non-traditional front office hirings that include Jason Wexler, Zach Kleiman, Rich Cho, and Glen Grunwald.
According to one report, at least one inquiry has been made about the head coach position: former Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov got a shot to interview with Memphis.
Memphis is taking its time selecting their coach, and it’s not necessary that the team has someone in place leading into the draft. Whether the next guy will be “the guy” or simply “the guy who helps them rebuild in the future” we aren’t yet sure.
Kokoskov got a raw deal in Phoenix, with many feeling as though the Suns wasted their hiring of the Slovenian national team’s coach by not drafting Luka Doncic with the No. 1 overall pick last year. It would be nice just to see him back on an NBA bench at the start of next season.
Draymond Green believes he’s the best defender ever. The Golden State Warriors star was certainly incredible against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, with the Warriors beating the home team, 110-99.
But one thing that has bothered Green’s detractors over the years is how much he speaks to the referees, particularly to his own detriment. It’s one thing to work referees the way that Chris Paul or Damian Lillard or James Harden does. It’s another to continuously antagonize refs en route to a whole mess of technical fouls, which have been a problem for Green in the playoffs in the past.
But Green has been pretty subdued when it comes to technicals this postseason, and that’s apparently in due to a concerted effort by the Golden State forward to curb his attitude and realize that he’s doing more damage than good.
This postseason, and particularly this Western Conference Finals, have been an interesting shift in the narrative around Green. Where before it seemed like haters could glom onto how much Green whined, at this point he’s simply dominating the Trail Blazers from a play standpoint and nothing else.
It’s been impressive to see, and I think all of us are happy to watch Green play the way he has without flapping his gums and putting the Warriors at a disadvantage because he wants to yell at the boys in gray.
The Portland Trail Blazers are down to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, 3-0. It’s not been a pretty matchup thus far, with the Warriors looking like their old selves without Kevin Durant.
The Blazers have struggled, and although Damian Lillard reportedly has separated ribs, their problems have been deeper than that. Portland came out looking particularly flat in the third quarter on offense through no pressure of Golden State. It was embarrassing, and lackluster.
The Blazers lost again on Saturday, 110-99, and emotions are running high in Rip City after the team made it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.
Perhaps that’s what led to this Blazers fan getting ejected during Saturday’s game?
In videos posted to social media, Trail Blazers security at Moda Center can be seen pushing a rather large gentleman out of the lower bowl as he yells at Golden State fans. The man decided to finish his drink before it being pushed up the steps to the concourse, much to the delight of the fans around him.
We are supposed to admonish behavior it like this, although we don’t know what led to him being ejected by Blazers security. At one point the announcers on ESPN did say that there was a fan who had thrown something on the floor, and perhaps this was related? We haven’t been able to confirm whether these two incidents are linked, but in watching the video it’s clear what the mood is in Portland.
If the Blazers are going to go down playing… well, however it is they have been playing — they certainly don’t look like the Portland team from the regular season — no doubt some folks are going to decide to get rowdy and have a few refreshments.
Game 4 is at Moda on Monday at 6 p.m. and I doubt this guy will be in attendance.
The New Orleans Pelicans continue to rebuild their broken front office. Now that David Griffin has taken his place as the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, the Pelicans are reportedly adding another name to their executive staff.
According to Shams Charania, Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Trajan Langdon will join Griffin in the New Orleans front office as the team’s new general manager.
Langdon started his front office career as a scout with the San Antonio Spurs, and was named assistant general manager of the Nets in 2016.
Brooklyn is a team that has done more with less as of late, and has acted as efficiently as they can particularly as they’ve tried to recover from the moves of a former GM. The Nets moved Billy King Out of the GM job in 2016 in favor for Sean Marks. The Pelicans fired Dell Demps in February.
It looks like the Pelicans are going to do all they can to get Anthony Davis to stay, and that includes a new front office team, upgrades to their practice facility, and a better health and training staff.
Langdon could be just a piece in the puzzle, but he could also be part of the group that has to figure out the best trade package for Davis if the day comes. Either way, New Orleans is regrouping as they move forward with the number one overall pick where they will presumably take Zion Williamson.