All-Star Weekend 2011: Dunk Contest Preview

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:12 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Feb 17, 2011 5:23 PM CDT

More All-Star Coverage from Oklahoma Sports:
Serge Ibaka No Stranger to Dunk Contests
All-Star Weekend 2011: Slam Dunk Preview
All-Star Weekend 2011: 3-Point Contest Preview
Harden to Replace Evans on All-Star Sophomore Team
Westbrook to Take Part in All-Star Skills Challenge

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

What: 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Who: Four of the league's top young dunkers
When: Coverage of All-Star Saturday Night begins at 7 p.m. Saturday night on TNT.


NameBlake Griffin Serge Ibaka DeMar DeRozan Javale McGee
Vertical Leap36"33"39"32"
2010-11 Dunks 137623689

Player Profiles

(Each player is assigned a "dunking coach" by the league)

Forward Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers

Coach: TNT analyst and former NBA player Kenny Smith
Experience: Griffin won the 2007 Powerade Jam Fest at the McDonald's All-American weekend as a senior in high school. Also won Faith 7 (Oklahoma vs. Texas) Dunk Contest in 2007.
Style: Power Dunker
Vegas Odds to Win: -250 (favorite)
What to watch for: Griffin has become the most exciting player to watch in the NBA and for one reason: his vicious, powerful dunks. He attacks the rim with reckless abandon and pretends that there is no one in his way, simply taking out anyone in his path. Only Dwight Howard of Orlando has registered more dunks this season (157) than the Clippers rookie has. Griffin's rare combination of size, strength and freakish athleticism make him almost everyone's favorite to take the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He also has experience, though not at the pro level. Griffin capped off the 2007 Powerade Jam Fest by throwing the ball through his legs from the free-throw line, bouncing it off the backboard, turning around and finishing with a catch and windmill jam.

Forward Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

Coach: Teammate and Western Conference All-Star starter Kevin Durant
Experience: Won 2008 ACB Dunk Contest while playing with Ricoh Manresa in Spain's premier professional league.
Style: Power
Vegas Odds to Win: +800
What to watch for: Ibaka is an underdog in this year's contest, but then again everyone is an underdog when Blake Griffin is participating. Most people aren't giving Ibaka any credit - not even his own coach Scott Brooks who has said he hasn't ever seen any dunk contest-worthy dunks from Ibaka. What most people don't know is that Ibaka actually has experience winning dunk contests in the past. He won the 2008 ACB (Spain) dunk contest imitating some of the more popular dunks from NBA past, including Andre Iguodala's behind-the-backboard alley-oop and Michael Jordan's free-throw line leap.

Forward DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Coach: NBA Legend Darryl Dawkins
Experience: Won 2008 Powerade Jam Fest as a senior in high school. Participated in 2010 NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
Style: Finesse
Vegas Odds to Win: +450
What to watch for: DeRozan has an advantage over the other three competitors in that he is the smallest of the bunch. While he is certainly no Spud Webb or Nate Robinson, smaller dunkers often look more impressive in that they have a much longer flight in order to get up to the rim. While DeRozan might not have reached his potential yet as a basketball player, his athleticism is through the roof. Toronto Raptors fans haven't had much to cheer about in quite some time, but DeRozan gives fans a much-needed taste of nostalgia, bringing them back to the days of Vince Carter's highlight-reel dunks.

Center Javale McGee, Washington Wizards

Coach: NBA Legend and TNT analyst Chris Webber
Experience: No significant dunk contest experience
Style: Height and Length
Vegas Odds to Win: +500
What to watch for: Just as DeRozan gets an aesthetic boost from being a smaller dunker, McGee could have some trouble for being a taller dunker. With the exception of Dwight Howard, it's hard for any legit 7-footer to still look super athletic while dunking. McGee is tall, lanky and has long arms, meaning a lot of times it looks as if he barely has to get off the floor to put down a dunk. However, in-game dunks are different than dunks with a wide open basket, and McGee has a chance to prove people wrong if he can get out there and come up with something creative.