The 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend has arrived in full force. Over the next couple of days, basketball fans are going to be treated to an entertaining celebration of the game and the current season. While the actual All-Star Game will be played on Sunday night, it definitely isn't the only noteworthy event of the weekend.
On Saturday, we have perhaps the three most fun events of All-Star Weekend, the dunk contest, the skills competition and the three-point competition.The three events are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET, with the Slam Dunk Contest being the nightcap. We're here to examine that final event.
We'll be taking a look at all the information you need to know about the 2017 dunk contest, including television information, news and the latest odds—courtesy of our friends as OddsShark.com.
2017 NBA Slam Dunk Contest
What: NBA Dunk Contest
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
When: Saturday, February 18
Time: 8 p.m. ET
National TV: TNT
Participants and Odds
|Slam Dunk Contest Odds|
|Aaron Gordon||Orlando Magic||-150|
|Derrick Jones Jr.||Northern Arizona Suns||+120|
|DeAndre Jordan||Los Angeles Clippers||+750|
|Glenn Robinson III||Indiana Pacers||+1100|
Rules, Predictions and Latest Buzz
The Slam Dunk Contest has undergone a number of rule and format changes over the years, beginning with the event's roots in the ABA. The golden years of the event were probably in the late 1980s when guys like Michael Jordan and Spud Webb were doing things that seemed to laugh in the face of physics.
Those older contests featured a larger field. Now, it has fewer participants and more elaborate dunks. In this way, the modern dunk contest has carved out an identity of its own.
Here are the rules for this year's competition, 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.
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Derrick Jones Jr. Finally Gets an NBA Dunk
Of the four participants in this year's contest, Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns may be the least well-known. This is because he has only played in seven games this season at the top level. As a former D-League star, though, Jones carved out quite a reputation as a dunker.
Coming into this week, Jones had never produced an official NBA dunk. As Michael Gallagher of NBC and Yahoo Sports pointed out, this changed on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers:
“I’ve known Derrick since high school, so I know it’s going to be a show," Suns forward Marquese Chriss said, per Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. “That’s all I can say, it’s going to be a show. He’s one of the best dunkers that nobody’s ever seen."
At least now fans have seen one dunk from Jones in the NBA.
If Jones can perform on Saturday like he's performed numerous times in the D-League, he's going to be tough to beat. However, it's difficult to bet against Gordon, who arguably could have won last year's competition against Zach LaVine.
Gordon appears very determined to take home the title this year.
"He's taking this year's contest very seriously," Gordon's mental conditioning coach Graham Betchart said, per Bleacher Report's Flinder Boyd. "It's been on his mind since the third grade."
Our guess is that Jones manages to push Gordon into the second round, and the two put on a show for the ages. With some creativity and with a greater sense of experience, though, Gordon should be able to come out on top.
That 2016 championship round was one of the best we've seen in quite some time. This year's could be even better.