NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2013: Picking Saturday's Favorites, Dark Horse and Winner
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is arguably the most exciting aspect of All-Star Weekend. Sure, the event could use a little bit more star power than it has typically showcased in recent years, but that doesn't detract from the amazing display and innovation that takes place each time out.
Reigning champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz has a chance to join some interesting company in Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson as the only back-to-back winners.
However, the five other contestants are sure to give Evans a run for his money, including another former dunk contest champ in Gerald Green of the Indiana Pacers.
Here is a list of the favorites, a dark horse and ultimate winner for Saturday's spectacle.
Favorites: Kenneth Faried, F, Denver Nuggets; Jeremy Evans, F, Utah Jazz
Few big men are as agile as Faried, who has proved time and again that he can dunk with the best of them in game situations. It should be really interesting to see how he then fares without anyone guarding him.
With such a massive wingspan and leaping ability, there is a lot of upside in investing a pick in Faried, who can get more extension and time in the air to pull off his sure to be brilliant tricks.
Evans will have a target on his back as he tries to defend his title, which will likely make for an even more difficult road to travel to the top. However, don't be surprised to see something even better than his dunk with two different balls last time around.
One positive working in Evans' favor for the dunk contest is that he averages only 5.5 minutes per game in 2012-13.
Whether fresher legs are a factor or not remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn't hurt Evans' chances being more well-rested than his counterparts.
Dark horse: Eric Bledsoe, G, Los Angeles Clippers
Being the shortest player in the competition doesn't necessarily mean that Bledsoe can't get it done.
He has outstanding athleticism for a point guard, and despite only being 6'1", he gets plenty of lift and explosiveness to the rim. As mentioned earlier, Robinson won this competition twice in a row and three times total—and he is far shorter than Bledsoe is.
Something about seeing a player with shorter stature do incredible things above the rim makes it often more visually stunning. Take Spud Webb's victory back in 1986, for example.
That is why Bledsoe has a legitimate outside chance at winning this contest. His skills are unquestioned, and he will look to fully capitalize on his unique situation to translate it to an upset.
Winner: Terrence Ross, G, Toronto Raptors
The top-10 pick could be considered in the dark horse category as well, but he is probably the most overlooked contestant in this year's crop.
Ross has been electric in the limited opportunities the Raptors have afforded him off the bench, and his role seems to be perpetually diminishing. The arrival of recently acquired superstar Rudy Gay isn't going to help in that regard, either.
But there has been enough tape on Ross to indicate that he can indeed throw it down with authority and grace. He has a wiry 6'6" frame and weighs just under 200 pounds, which allows him to be extremely quick.
Similar to the situation that Evans will be in, Ross hasn't played all that much and should have very fresh legs as a rookie.
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