NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2017: Participants, Format, TV Schedule and Predictions

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 17, 2017

TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 13:  Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic goes up for the dunk during the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest as part of the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend on February 13, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The NBA Slam Dunk contest features one player known for his 360-degree pregame dunks as well as another contestant who put a 6'10" forward on a poster for one of the nastiest NBA slams this season.

Those players are Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III, and they are huge underdogs going into this contest at 8/1 and 9/1, respectively, per OddsShark.

That goes to show how deep this four-person field is this year. Last year's runner-up, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, is the presumptive favorite, while D-Leaguer Derrick Jones Jr. is considered his biggest threat for the crown.

Let's take a look the basics for Saturday's Slam Dunk Contest and provide a prediction at the end.

     

Participants

PlayerTeamHeightWeight
Aaron GordonOrlando Magic6'9"220
Derrick Jones Jr.Northern Arizona Suns6'7"190
DeAndre JordanLos Angeles Clippers6'11"265
Glenn Robinson IIIIndiana Pacers6'6"222

     

Format

Here's a look at the format of the Slam Dunk Contest, via NBA.com:

Verizon Slam Dunk is a two-round event in which the four participants can perform any dunk they choose without time limits.  The players have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first round and the final round.  Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a high score of 50 and a low score of 30.

All four competitors get two dunks in the first round.  The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round.  The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the champion.

The Dunk Contest has seen numerous format tweaks over the years, some of which have worked, and some of which have failed miserably, but this format is probably the best bet moving forward.

Each player has three chances to complete a dunk, so a player attempting a complicated jam has two mulligans, which is fair.

That being said, the limit is key, as players repeating failed dunk attempts over and over again have completely killed the vibe of the night in years past.

     

TV Schedule

The Slam Dunk Contest will be televised on TNT this Saturday, February 18, but the exact time is to be determined.

It is the third in a series of three All-Star Saturday Night events beginning at 8 p.m. ET and will take place after the skills challenge and three-point contest are complete. The guess it that it will start sometime around 9:30 p.m.

    

Prediction

It's impossible to bet against Aaron Gordon, who should have won last year's competition with arguably the best performance in Slam Dunk Contest history. In case you forgot how good he (and Zach LaVine) were, here's a refresher:

Flinder Boyd of B/R Mag wrote a feature on Gordon leading up to the Slam Dunk Contest, and the key takeaway is that Gordon takes the contest very, very seriously. His mental conditioning coach (Graham Betchart) also doubles as his "unofficial dunking consultant," as Boyd coined it. Betchart leads him through series of mental visualization exercises to get him ready.

Here's more inside Gordon's preparation for Saturday:

Recently, Betchart has been flying to Orlando, and after each practice Gordon will try out a few dunk ideas. When one sticks, he'll stand on the sidelines and begin visualizing himself inside Smoothie King Center in New Orleans bounding toward the rim, the crowd on its feet. "We do the mental prep. Your brain is so powerful that it doesn't know the difference between imagining and reality," Betchart says.

Furthermore, the experience factor helps, as Gordon was toe to toe with LaVine in one of (if not the greatest) Slam Dunk Contests of all time. He's been in that type of environment where the pressure is on to make acrobatic slams.

Of course, Jones, Robinson and Jordan are professional athletes who feel pressure and have experience on big stages, but it's a different type of situation when 20,000 people are looking only at you, expecting some wild sorcery as you fly through the air.

All four contestants should put on a show, but Gordon will hold the trophy high at the end of the night.

Related

    B/R Live: Watch Bulls vs. Magic

    Orlando Magic logo
    Orlando Magic

    B/R Live: Watch Bulls vs. Magic

    via B/R Live

    Lowe: 'Don't Think' KP Was 'Psyched' to Play with KD

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Lowe: 'Don't Think' KP Was 'Psyched' to Play with KD

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    Clippers Still Pushing for Postseason

    Amick: Ballmer has made it clear he wants to make the playoffs - first round pick be damned

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Clippers Still Pushing for Postseason

    Amick: Ballmer has made it clear he wants to make the playoffs - first round pick be damned

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report

    New NBA Power Rankings

    Would you switch up the top 5?

    Orlando Magic logo
    Orlando Magic

    New NBA Power Rankings

    Would you switch up the top 5?

    Grant Hughes
    via Bleacher Report