7 Current NBA Stars We Wanted in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Eric EdelmanCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2013

7 Current NBA Stars We Wanted in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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    All-Star Weekend is upon us, and that means we get to see arguably the most exciting exhibition event of the year—the Sprite NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Well, at least it's supposed to be the most exciting, but it sure hasn't been that great the past few years.

    Sadly, a lot of the best athletes are cautious about injury, and as a result, they choose to sit out the contest. While there isn't anything wrong with any of this year's participants, it is a bit disappointing that the event's full potential isn't reached like it used to be. Back in the day, even the game's greats like Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan would square off no different than they would in an actual game. 

    The event has lost that competitive edge that made it such an iconic event.

    This year will hopefully be entertaining, but there are still plenty of incredible NBA athletes we have yet to see throw down. Some of the game's biggest names also happen to be the best athletes, and that being said, it's time we take notice. 

    Let's recognize real talent and highlight some of the best NBA dunkers who have yet to show off their hops in the contest. 

Dwyane Wade

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    He's past his prime athleticism-wise, but Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat can still throw it down with the best of them. 

    The 6'4" combo-guard out of Marquette has had an illustrious career that includes an NBA Finals MVP, two championship rings and perennial All-Star appearances. With such an outstanding resume, it's a shame we have yet to ever see him in a dunk contest.

    His repertoire of slams includes vicious tomahawks and combines his one-in-a-million-type body control in mid-air. There's no question he could come up with some creative schemes in the contest. 

Tyson Chandler

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    While last year's Defensive Player of the Year is known for his defense, fans also know Tyson Chandler for his thunderous finishes at the rim. Doing a lot of his work off the lob, Chandler excels at finishing the break with authority. For a big man, very few players in the league possess his type of athleticism at his height.

    If he was given the opportunity to compete in the contest. There's no question we'd see a lot of creative alley-oop type schemes. Chandler can still jump with the best of them, and there's no question he'd be a favorite to win if given the chance. 

Russell Westbrook

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    Part of what makes Russell Westbrook's offensive game so lethal is his gravity-defying athleticism. Among the new generation of hyper-athletic combo guards, Westbrook would be a favorite to win the contest if given a chance.

    His violent tomahawks, rim-rattling reverse slams and incredible jumping ability would ensure he'd put on quite a show. Russell actually wanted to participate this year, but for whatever reason, we won't get to see the elite scoring machine flex his vertical ability. 

Kevin Durant

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    Similar to his teammate, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant is a monstrous finisher if he gets enough room to leap and throw it down. It's scary to imagine being a defender tasked with stopping someone who is essentially a seven-footer with a guard's skill set.

    Well, that's the dilemma Durant poses in 5-on-5, but imagine what he could do if he participated in the dunk contest? His agility, wingspan and speed at his height would make for some interesting dunk concepts. 

    It would be incredible if we ever got to see Durant and Westbrook throw it down as much as they score on a nightly basis. 

Derrick Rose

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    What's a real shame regarding Derrick Rose's untimely injury last season is the fact his athleticism may never be the same. Pre-injury, the Bulls' prolific combo guard was mesmerizing to watch in flight.

    Just like early in Dwyane Wade's career, Rose could hit layups and finish dunks nobody else could. Now while he very well may come back just as good as he was before, there is no question he will never risk injury by participating in the contest.

    Rose and Westbrook are unquestionably the league's two best athletes at their respective positions, and if we ever got to see Rose throw down some double-clutch reverse slams, it would surely make for a classic contest. 

    Either way, hopefully he can return to form, because dunk contest or not dunk contest, Rose is a once-in-a-generation-type player. 

DeAndre Jordan

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    Although his frontcourt-mate Blake Griffin gets all the glory, DeAndre Jordan may very well be one of the most underrated athletes in the NBA. Laterally, he may not be as quick as Griffin, but he is most certainly more violent with his slams than Griffin is.

    When he goes up to dunk, it's as if he wants to yank the rim off the backboard, and his explosiveness at his height is very hard to come by. He won't be competing in this year's contest, but hopefully, we will get to see Jordan at least once while he still has his hops. 

LeBron James

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    He's probably the greatest all-around athlete we've ever seen in the NBA, and he might be the greatest athlete to never participate in an NBA dunk contest. His combination of speed, size and athleticism makes him a matchup nightmare, and there's no question he'd be equally imposing in a dunk contest.

    Reverse slams, tomahawks, windmills—you name it, he's done it in a game before. He may have done it in countless exhibitions and playoff games, but we have yet to see Bron Bron throw it down in a dunk contest.

    There's no telling what creative dunks he could come up with, and there's no question no matter how gravity-defying the maneuvers would be, he could execute. 

    Hopefully, before it's all said and done, we can see King James get a crack at the contest, but knowing how cautious big-name players are, we'll probably never see it happen.