A lackluster field of participants for this season's NBA Slam Dunk Contest has caused expectations to reach an all-time low. That will allow Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George to steal the spotlight by showing off some of his outstanding athleticism.
As crazy as it sounds, George is actually the most accomplished player in the event. He'll be joined by Jeremy Evans, Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger, none of whom have made a major impact at the NBA level.
The Pacers have expanded George's role this season, and he's rewarded them with solid all-around play and glimpses of becoming a big-time contributor. More importantly, at least for this competition, he has thrown down 25 dunks during his sophomore campaign.
As you can see in the video above, he might not be on the same level as last year's champion Blake Griffin, but George will be able to hold his own on Saturday night.
Fred Jones was the last member of the Pacers to win the slam dunk competition in 2004. Like George, he didn't have a lot of name recognition heading into the event. That didn't stop him from outlasting back-to-back winner Jason Richardson.
Look for a similar breakout performance from George. By the end of All-Star Weekend he'll be somebody every NBA fan knows about instead of being just another face in the crowd. That's how much the event still has even though it isn't as highly regarded as past years.
George certainly has the high-flying ability to make it happen. More often than not that's all it really takes. Fans just want to see somebody come up with a creative dunk that they couldn't pull off in their wildest dreams.
Of all the contestants, George has the best chance of pulling it off. That's why he'll emerge from Orlando with a new trophy for his mantle.