Over the years the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has taken on the role of a stepping-stone event for lesser-known players who want to be a part of the rich history that comes along with the competition.
On February 16, four players will try to put their names alongside the likes of Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Blake Griffin and many others to win this event before.
However, since we don't know who will be in the event, we want to talk about who should be. We know that this fantasy roster isn't likely to happen, but it would help bring some prestige back to the event.
We will keep things fair and honest here. A player like Dwight Howard, who is near the top of the leaderboard in dunks but battling shoulder issues, isn't going to be part of the dunk contest.
Dunk stats as of Sunday, Feb. 3 and courtesy of CBS Sports
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Not only did Griffin make the 2011 Dunk Contest, but he turned himself into a superstar along the way. He made the event feel like it was a big deal because we knew he was going to be something special.
To the surprise of no one, Griffin is leading the NBA in dunks this season (118). He is the most explosive big man in the league today. There might be reasons he won't take part in the event, some likely to be valid, but it would be a great spectacle for the fans.
Griffin would also have a built-in advantage heading into the competition. Everyone wants to see him take part in the dunk contest, so he would practically be a shoo-in to win.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Smith is actually a very underrated dunker. He doesn't have the same explosiveness that a player like Griffin does off the ground, but when he gets in the air he is able to throw it down with the best in the game.
Adding Smith to the dunk contest rotation would be a great way to let casual fans see what he is all about. Playing basketball in Atlanta doesn't bring you a lot of publicity, even though he has averaged at least 15 points and seven rebounds every year since 2006.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Like Smith, George is a player who just deserves to be rewarded for having a terrific season. He leads the Pacers in scoring, 32nd in the NBA with 38 dunks and has stepped up his game for a team currently ranked fifth in the eastern conference.
George also fits the recent trend of getting younger stars in the event who want to make a name for themselves. He is just 22 years old and came out of Fresno State, so there isn't a lot of mainstream hype surrounding him.
Put him in a dunk showcase and he could turn into a star.
Greg Smith, Houston Rockets
Finally, we come to the hometown hero. I am a sucker for having a player from the host city be part of the event. Since the Rockets aren't loaded with real explosive dunkers, the options are limited.
Smith has been a very pleasant surprise, though he has a limited amount of time to make his presence felt because he only averages 14 minutes per game. He only averages 5.5 points per game, yet he is 31st in the league with 39 dunks.
The NBA needs to do everything it can to get one Rockets player involved in the dunk contest.