Dominique Wilkins to John Collins: 'Set the Tone' at NBA 2019 Slam Dunk Contest

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 15, 2019

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 7: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks goes up for dunk against the Toronto Raptors on February 7, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins is making his first appearance in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest this Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

He has a pretty good tutor to help him along the way.

Former Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins, who won the 1985 and 1990 Slam Dunk contests, told Chris Kirschner of The Athletic that he offered the following advice to Collins:

"I told him the first thing he needed to do when he got in the dunk contest is to not leave anything at home," Wilkins told Kirschner. "You have to set the tone. Not only does your confidence level rise, but the electricity in the building rises when you set the tone."

Collins considers the man nicknamed "The Human Highlight Film" his "mentor," per Kirschner. Having a living legend like Wilkins should only help the former Wake Forest star, who is competing against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamadou Diallo, New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Hornets forward Miles Bridges.

Wilkins is among the game's greatest all-time dunkers, but Collins' impressive vertical leaps and power conjure memories of the Hall of Famer.

Take this putback dunk for example:

His balance is also noteworthy, like when he was able to put this slam home despite the midair foul:

The traits required for both jams were evidenced in Wilkins' remarks about Collins' dunking abilities:

“He kind of reminds me of myself because of how quick he is off his feet. I was always quick off my feet and wanted to attack the rim. He brings that to my mind all of the time. I only played one way, and that was all out. My whole motive and idea was to attack you all of the time. Once I got in the lane, there was nothing you were going to do to stop me. And what John can do is he can do all of that and do it in traffic. That’s hard to do.” 

Smith is currently the +150 favorite ($100 bet to win $150) to take the title, per Bovada (h/t OddsShark). Collins is tied for second on the odds ledger with Bridges at +250, and Diallo is listed at +325.

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