The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is easily the most exciting event of All-Star Weekend, but the success of the competition will depend on the final round.
Some years of the event are much better than others due to the amount of creativity and excitement that takes place in the finals. While each competitor brings a little something to the table, only a few will make the competition memorable.
However, a new format this year will make things a little more interesting. There are six competitors, three representing the Eastern Conference and three from the Western Conference. Only one from each side will be able to advance to the next stage.
This means that if the two best performances are by competitors on the same "team," the one in second place will still be eliminated.
In that case, these men better bring everything they have right away.
It also means that it is best to dissect this battle by conference.
There is no denying that this side is much better on paper than the Western Conference. Gerald Green has the experience, James White has the hype and Terrence Ross has shown this season that he can throw it down.
Ross might be overmatched here, but he is arguably the best actual player of the group, as demonstrated by some impressive in-game highlights of powerful dunks.
Unfortunately, this is not the person whom fans will want to see advance from this side.
Instead, it will come down to Green vs. White.
James "Flight" White had played in only 10 NBA games prior to this season, but the New York Knicks gave the 30-year-old a chance, and he has performed well in limited minutes. However, this means that he can take his dunk-contest skills to the big stage.
The guard has shown what he can do in similar contests all over the world. He dunked from well behind the free-throw line in a D-League dunk contest.
He also added a between-the-legs slam from behind the free-throw line in Turkey.
Then again, his top opponent has something else that will please the fans besides hops. Green also has creativity. The 2007 winner excited the crowd by blowing out a candle while dunking in the 2008 event.
Green also performed one of the more underrated acts by doing a between-the-legs dunk without shoes on.
Everyone will want to see what the Indiana Pacers forward will do next, and that is what will push him into the finals.
The Western Conference has a bit of a different look compared to the other roster.
Eric Bledsoe is the shortest man in the competition, and his ability to do this at only 6'1" will please the crowd.
However, he is not exactly Nate Robinson, who is four inches shorter than Bledsoe. America loves small players with a lot of athleticism, but the guard will not turn heads this year.
Next up is Kenneth Faried, who is an absolute monster on the floor and uses his motor to put up big numbers for the Denver Nuggets. As a Slam Dunk Contest contestant, fans will love his ability to attack the basket with such intensity, like he did against the Cleveland Cavaliers this year.
Then again, neither player has the athleticism of last year's winner Jeremy Evans. The Utah Jazz player has the hops and the length to make some exciting moves. In addition, his two-ball dunk was likely the highlight of the 2012 event.
Hopefully, he has come up with a few more ideas over the past year, as he should easily advance out of the East.
Dream Finals: Gerald Green vs. Jeremy Evans
This matchup would have the storyline of two former champions going against each other. These men will each be able to use the skills that got him his first title and try to show the world something it has never seen before.
Although White's pure jumping ability might throw a wrinkle into the system, Green can match him in that area. Few people in the world would be able to do this in a game.
At this point, Green should be the favorite to win the 2013 title.
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