While there's only a few players who get selected, there's always a big handful of guys who deserve a spot. The NBA consistently tries to draw in its biggest stars but have had little success in most instances, although they have still put several talented guys on display.
This year's crop won't be much different, as the names associated with the rumored roster of contestants boasts stars like John Wall and DeAndre Jordan. Despite being invited, there are players, such as Wall, who may refrain from participating for whatever reason, although he definitely should if he's healthy.
The fact that the league's top stars seldom participate, the dunk contest is actually a great chance to appreciate and celebrate the talent of a player instead of their status. This year's contest will undoubtedly feature several talented players, although some are more deserving than others.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
As the emerging leader of the Indiana Pacers' dominant squad, Paul George has had quite a season so far. He's scored double-digit points in each of his last 12 games and has had a plethora of highlights along the way.
Of his most notable highlights, his monstrous 360 windmill dunk against the Los Angeles Clippers impresses most—it's arguably the dunk of the year thus far.
George is one of the league's brightest young stars, and at 6'10", he would easily be a favorite to win the dunk contest if he decides to participate. That's a big "if" considering he seemed generally uninterested in participating not too long ago.
He expressed recently that the dunk contest had become a joke. "I guess whoever had the biggest celebrity involved in their dunk was going to be the winner. I guess I should have tried to reach out to some people," George told Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star.
While that makes it seem like he wouldn't even think of competing again, he was singing a different tune when asked about it by Scott Agness of NBA.com. "No, I haven’t declined. I’m keeping my options open. It would all depend on who’s in it. I want to be in it when the competition is good," George said.
While he may or may not choose to take part in the contest, there's no denying that he at least deserves a spot.
Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
As the reigning champ, Terrence Ross has once again proved his worth and has earned the spot he has in this year's dunk contest. He's thrown down a couple rim-rocking jams this season and is rounding out as a good overall player.
The second-year swingman has already been prepping himself for the field of potential opponents he could face. "It really just depends on whoever is there," said Ross (via Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun). "You get a feel for what people can do or what sneaky things they can do and try and get away with."
While part of Ross' game plan will unsurprisingly remain a mystery, we can surely count on one thing—he will not be an easy champion to overthrow.
As he's demonstrated all season long, Ross has incredible jumping ability, and given his experience in the contest, he may have a little something up his sleeve that he's been waiting to unveil. There's no telling what he'll end up doing, but eyes should be peeled when Ross is on the court.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
The leader of the Wiz Kids has notched quite a few dunks in his day, and he would be a great contestant in the dunk contest. He's reportedly already received an invite but is mulling over a decision he's yet to make.
Regardless, there's little room to argue when it comes to Wall's deserving of a spot in the dunk contest. Wall has been an absolute star for the Washington Wizards this year, and he has scored double-digit points in every game he's played in since late November.
The 6'4" point guard has made plenty of eye-catching dunks, but his posterization of Greg Monroe in January was truly a great one.
According to J. Michael of CSN Washington, Wall's final decision will hinge upon the level of competition. He wants to compete against the best, and if some superstars come out of the woodwork for this, then he'll have a hard time turning it down.
These are some of the NBA's elite, and all have a chance to win this year's event. Hopefully, for fans' sake, we are afforded a great competition.