NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2019: Participants, Odds and Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets yells and celebrates after a dunk during the game against the Sacramento Kings on January 17, 2019 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kent Smith/Getty Images

A first-time winner of the Slam Dunk Contest will be crowned Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The champion of the dunking showcase at Spectrum Center will join Glenn Robinson III and Donovan Mitchell as the third first-time Slam Dunk Contest champion in the last three seasons. 

Dennis Smith Jr., who finished third a year ago, returns for his second participation in the event, while Miles Bridges, John Collins and Hamidou Diallo are first-time entrants into the famous skills showcase that is a part of NBA All-Star Weekend. 

Bridges has the opportunity to achieve a rare feat, as he's attempting to become the first player to win the Slam Dunk Contest in his home arena since Blake Griffin in Los Angeles in 2011. 

                                 

Participants

Miles Bridges, Charlotte

John Collins, Atlanta

Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City 

Dennis Smith Jr., New York 

                  

Odds

              

Predictions

1. Smith 

2. Bridges

3. Collins

4. Diallo 

Familiarity with the Slam Dunk Contest and home-court advantage will be major factors in Saturday's competition. 

Smith, who was recently traded from Dallas to New York, only got off two dunks a year ago before Mitchell and Larry Nance Jr. moved on to the final round. 

Smith should come into Charlotte with a good amount of confidence, as he's scored in double digits in each of his last four games with the Knicks. 

In addition to being motivated from last year's failed attempt to win the Slam Dunk Contest, Smith will be performing in front of familiar faceshe grew up in North Carolina and attended NC State. 

With an improved repertoire and a better understanding of what the judges are looking for, Smith will find a way to marvel the crowd with his dunks to come out on top. 

Look for Smith to elevate from close to the free-throw line on a few dunk attempts, and with that time in the air, he should be able to twist his body enough or move the ball around enough to wow the judges.

While Smith is more than capable of putting on a show, he's going to face stiff competition from Bridges, who is looking for a boost to finish his rookie season off strong. 

At the moment, Bridges is averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Hornets, but he's been able to deliver a few impressive slams during his time on the court. 

With the home crowd fueling him, Bridges will come close to becoming the fourth player to win the Slam Dunk Contest in his home arena. 

Bridges should be able to use his length as an asset in the contest. He has the ability to get above the rim while delivering powerful dunks, as he has shown during his rookie season.

The combination of height, power and whatever tricks Bridges has up his sleeve should propel him into the final round. 

Before Griffin won at the Staples Center in 2011, Michael Jordan in 1988 and Isaiah Rider in 1994 were the only players to record that achievement. 

Collins and Diallo will be able to get the crowd out of their seats, but they won't have enough power and creativity to beat the highly motivated pair of Smith and Bridges to reach the final. 

                                                      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

Related

    Suns Fire HC Igor Kokoskov

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Suns Fire HC Igor Kokoskov

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Jazz's Adjustments Offer Blueprint to Make History

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Jazz's Adjustments Offer Blueprint to Make History

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Role Players Will Determine Bucks’ Fate Against Loaded Celtics

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Role Players Will Determine Bucks’ Fate Against Loaded Celtics

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Lawsuit Accuses Luke Walton of Sexual Assault

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Report: Lawsuit Accuses Luke Walton of Sexual Assault

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report