Anfernee Simons was a 2018 first-round pick by Portland – he never played college basketball but was a touted recruit.
The NBA’s All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will be held Sunday in Atlanta and will look a bit different this year. The Knicks’ Obi Toppin opened as the favourite on the NBA odds.
Because of COVID, there will not be an All-Star Weekend in Atlanta but every event will be crammed into Sunday and no fans will be allowed. It’s frankly dangerous for the NBA to even have an All-Star Game, etc., in having players travelling from all over the country for exhibition events, but it will draw big ratings on Sunday and made TV broadcast partner TNT happy.
The Slam Dunk Contest will take place at halftime of the actual All-Star Game, so the league needs it to go faster than usual. That could be part of the reason there are only three competitors instead of four. Then again, many players turned down the chance to compete citing either risk of injury or simply not wanting to travel to Atlanta.
Three guys playing in their first-ever All-Star Game on Sunday, Chicago’s Zach LaVine, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson, turned down a Slam Dunk Contest invitation. Zion would have definitely given the event much more buzz.
There are five judges for the Dunk Contest: Hall of Famer and former Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, arguably one of the best dunkers in basketball history, Dee Brown, Jason Richardson, Josh Smith and Spud Webb. All five of those guys won the Dunk Contest at least once – Smith, Webb and Wilkins won their titles as members of the Hawks.
Slam Dunk Contest Field Odds
Here is how the competition will work per the NBA release: “In the first round, the competitors will perform two dunks each. The five judges will score each dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a maximum score of 50 and a minimum score of 30. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks (a maximum of 100 and a minimum of 60) will advance to the final round. In the final round, the two competitors will perform one dunk each. The winner will be determined by ‘Judges’ Choice’ instead of individual score.
It’s a rather anonymous trio of first-time Slam Dunk Contest participants: Portland’s Anfernee Simons, Indiana’s Cassius Stanley and New York’s Obi Toppin – those latter two are rookies.
The 21-year-old Simons was a 2018 first-round pick by Portland – he never played college basketball but was a touted recruit. Simons plays around 17 minutes per night off the bench for the Trail Blazers. The NBA Slam Dunk Contest odds have him at +175 to win. Current Trail Blazers forward Derrick Jones Jr. won the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest while playing for Miami.
Stanley was also once a touted recruit who didn’t live up to expectations in his one year at Duke and was a 2020 second-round pick by the Pacers. Stanley almost never sees the court in the NBA (G-League, maybe) and probably should have returned to school. Stanley is +200 to win.
Toppin was not a mega-recruit out of Brooklyn but blossomed into a college basketball star and was named the National College Player of the Year in the 2019-20 season at Dayton – which might have won the 2020 NCAA Tournament had it not been cancelled. Toppin slipped a bit in the 2020 draft, landing at No. 8 overall with the Knicks. He only plays around 12 minutes per night off the bench and missed a chunk of time injured. It makes sense that Toppin is the +150 favourite as he’s the best-known player of the three.
Slam Dunk Contest Prediction
Google Simons and “dunk” and you will see why he’s the winning pick. That guy has major hops