Indiana Pacers superstar Paul George is a gifted dunker. Nobody is disputing that.
With that said, I think PG has the best chance of being named "Dunker of the Night" due to his popularity.
Ideally, the fan vote in this instance will reward whoever the best dunker was on Saturday—and who knows, maybe that will be George when it's all said and done.
His status as an NBA superstar, however, may ultimately be the X-factor putting him over the top.
One could argue that I'm comparing apples to oranges here, but NBA fan votes are NBA fan votes regardless of the setting. There will be those who choose guys deserving of said honor, others voting with personal bias toward their favorite players and others still balloting for the injured Kobe Bryant to make the All-Star game as a starter.
The Pacers star received more than 1.2 million All-Star votes from fans, which was more than triple the votes John Wall and Damian Lillard received.
I hate being cynical, but naive fans might vote for George simply because he's a big name on a championship-caliber team. That will be fine if he truly beats his competitors on Saturday, but the competition may be stiffer than ever in 2014.
My early prediction for the Slam Dunk Contest a week ago was John Wall, and I don't intend to stray from that gut feeling even though I think George will be voted as the favorite.
Of the Wizards floor general, I wrote, "Wall is trying to build up his brand and make a name for himself as a bona fide star in the NBA. As a result, he may show added motivation to win this contest as a means of putting the league on notice."
The Kentucky standout has been somewhat under-the-radar playing in Washington, but he can change his perception by putting on a show during All-Star weekend. Winning the Slam Dunk Contest would go a long way toward building up his brand and overall popularity in the NBA community.
Let's just say I think he's up to the task.