The NBA shook things up a bit when it announced that there would be some rule changes in this year's Slam Dunk Contest. The contestants will now be divided into teams (Eastern Conference versus Western conference), and will compete in two rounds that will ultimately decide the winning team.
When looking at how the six competitors were broken up, it's clear that the East has the upper hand on paper. All three of the conference's dunkers are superior dunkers and have flashed the better ability of putting on a show when they go at the rim, and that ability will be on display this weekend.
Now, that's not to say that Lillard isn't a great player, but he hasn't been much of a dunker this season and lacks the experience above the rim that guys like George and Ross clearly have.
Speaking of George, he's an All-Pro who has recently garnered a reputation for being a ferocious dunker. George's eye-popping 360 windmill dunk against the Los Angeles Clippers is arguably the dunk of the year and will be a hard move for him to top in this competition.
George also competed in the 2012 dunk contest and had a strong performance that was highlighted by his flashy, Tron-inspired routine.
Along with George is John Wall, the heart and soul of the Washington Wizards. As a part of the league's rising elite, Wall has made a name for himself as one of the most athletic young stars in the NBA. He has tremendous leaping ability and has recently added a bit of flashiness to his in-game dunks.
From behind-the-back dunks to 360s, Wall has demonstrated time after time that he is a very talented, comfortable dunker.
George and Wall will bring much star power to this year's contest, which is something it has been void of over the past few years. George is quite the crowd-pleaser, and will be the first legitimate superstar to take part in the dunk contest since Blake Griffin in 2011.
Wall fails to match George's size on the court, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in explosiveness. He may not be who you'd regularly think of when it comes to a dunk contest, but make no mistake—Wall can hang with the best of them.
After George and Wall comes Terrence Ross, the reigning dunk contest champion. Ross isn't nearly as big a star as Wall or George, but he is every bit as talented as a dunker.
Ross won the 2013 dunk contest in style with his between-the-legs dunk over a person, reminiscent of Raptors legend Vince Carter.
Ross' performance was a refreshing one as he opted to rely on skill and technique instead oft-used props. He will be facing better competition this year, but he's still the same dunker he was a year ago, if not better. If you don't believe that, just ask Kenneth Faried, who recently got posterized by Ross.
Overall, the Eastern Conference is just more set up to win than the West. Two of the league's brightest young stars and the man who won the contest just a year ago? Game, set, match. The East will be bringing this one home.
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