After further examination, it seems that this dunk contest won't be that bad.
It does lack the star power that is known to bring the hype, but maybe this is a good thing. There have been plenty of dunk contests with star power that have failed to deliver because of how over-hyped it is. Take a look at Blake Griffin's dunks last year in the contest, and you'll know just how badly hype could ruin a player's performance.
This year, the dunk contest isn't being hyped up at all, which means that we could be surprised. We don't know much about any of these players, and they could unleash some aerial assaults that could get us out of our seats. We realize the names aren't carrying much significance, but they will once you see the dunks that they have thrown down.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to the contest is Jeremy Evans replacing Iman Shumpert. It's no disrespect at all to Shumpert, but Evans has enough athleticism to jump out of the building—and you'll see exactly what I mean in a few minutes.
Utah Jazz forward Evans, Houston Rockets small forward Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams and Indiana Pacers shooting guard Paul George—yes, I know he's a forward, but he's played as a 2-guard—will be the participants, as they hope to continue making the Slam Dunk Contest relevant.
I have the feeling this is either going to be really bad or really good.
I'm just going to put it out there since we're all thinking it: Chase Budinger is white, and we're not used to seeing that in the Slam Dunk Contest.
In fact, the last time we saw someone who was a white American was in 2005, when Chris Andersen had 15 attempts to throw down a dunk. Brent Barry was the only Caucasian to win, which came in 1996, when he dunked from the free-throw line in a warmup suit.
However, Budinger is beating the stereotypes and is actually one of the most underrated high-fliers in the game. You don't see him too much considering he's playing in Houston—and no one is currently paying attention to basketball outside of New York—but take my word for it when I say Budinger is an excellent dunk artist.
Take a look as Budinger nearly gets eye level with the rim on a put-back slam against the Boston Celtics.
Have a taste of the Rockets' small forward driving in and dunking with two hands over San Antonio Spurs center DeJuan Blair.
Still not convinced? Have a go as Budinger drives down the lane and throws down against the Denver Nuggets.
Those two-handed dunks won't be enough, though. Budinger will need to jump over Yao Ming if he wants to come away with a win.
At only 20 years old, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is one of the youngest players to ever compete in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Deservedly so, of course. We knew Williams was an athlete in his time at the University of Arizona, and we've seen it come to life. While Williams has done a great job at getting dunks by creating his own shot, it's his chemistry with fellow rookie point guard Ricky Rubio.
Here's another one for good measure. It's not an alley-oop, but Williams and Rubio continued to show off great chemistry on the court.
The greatest innovation of this year's dunk contest is the fact that each participant will need a partner for one of the dunks. I believe it's obvious that we know who Williams' partner will be.
Never heard of Jeremy Evans? I'm sorry to hear of your misfortune.
Unfortunately for the public, we haven't gotten to see much of Jeremy Evans in his two-year career. We'll give you a quick background, though. Evans is a 6'9", 195 lb. forward who was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 55th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He played four years in college with Western Kentucky and averaged 10 points on 65 percent shooting to go along with seven boards per game.
Evans only played in 49 games last year and was mostly relegated to garbage time, where we would get a sneak preview of his capabilities. Evans averaged only four points and two boards in the short time he was on the floor. The same story applies to this year, as Evans has only played in 16 games with even fewer minutes at six per contest.
In the time he has been on the floor, we have seen just how scary Evans can be when he gets an open lane and a full head of steam. His dunk on Gerald Wallace in the 2011 preseason was what garnered him the most attention. Even though it didn't count, the dunk showed us just what kind of athleticism the 24-year-old really has.
Consider Evans the new James "Flight" White in terms of having plenty of athleticism to get into the Slam Dunk Contest, but not enough talent to get minutes in a regulation game.
The biggest name in the Slam Dunk Contest also happens to be the most likely participant to win.
Paul George is having a terrific sophomore season after a sluggish start to his NBA career. Last year, George played in 61 games, started 19 and averaged eight points and four boards per contest. He converted on 45 percent of his shots and only 30 percent of his three-pointers.
George had potential, but he was much too raw to get a clear outlook on. His jumper was inconsistent, he didn't drive as much as he should have, and he didn't take advantage of his athleticism or size. The Indiana Pacers played him as a shooting guard and George failed to take advantage, despite being 6'10" and having the quickness to keep up with most 2-guards.
This year has been a completely different story. George is playing aggressive on both ends, making his jump shots and playing with a lot of confidence. He has started in every game that he's played in as the shooting guard and is quietly having one of the better seasons among other sophomores.
He's averaging 12 points, five boards and two assists per game, while converting on 44 percent of his field goals overall and 40 percent of his three-pointers.
What we're here to focus on, however, is just how terrific a dunker George is. We knew in his days at Fresno State that he could fly, and we've been lucky enough to see him throw down a few huge dunks in the NBA.
He's had too many dunks to show individually, but we've been lucky enough to locate a video that showcases his greatest dunks.