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NBA Dunk Contest Field Already Essentially Set

Victor Oladipo and three other young stars will make up this year’s dunk contest field, according to a report.

Joel Brigham profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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With the All-Star starters chosen, the next areas where fans turn their anticipation in regards to All-Star weekend are the names of the reserves and the dunk contest candidates. Despite its occasional blasé output, the dunk contest has the potential to be an elite, heart-stopping display of athleticism that really is unlike anything in any other sport.

This year, though, before the reserves have been announced and long before the league has officially announced anything about the dunk contest, three of the four contestants in this year’s event have apparently already accepted league invitations, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. They include Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee.

These selections are in tune with the NBA’s recent trend of tagging young, burgeoning stars to dunk, mostly because the more prestigious dunkers (and stars) haven’t been interested in doing the event for years.

There was more star power in the event last year, but they were younger stars (Paul George, John Wall) that hadn’t previously taken part in the event. Wall, despite winning last year, will not be defending his crown according to J. Michael of CSN Washington, which means the fourth contestant in this year’s dunk contest is still up for grabs.

Wojnarowski is reporting that the league is interested in targeting Minnesota’s Zach LaVine, which would be a huge boon for the event considering he’s arguably the most talented and inventive dunker in the league right now. However, this past weekend Philadelphia’s K.J. McDaniels told James Herbert of CBSSports.com that he was asked to compete in the dunk contest and said he wasn’t sure if he’d participate since he doesn’t consider himself a trick dunker. McDaniels getting the invite suggests that the league is keeping its options open in case LaVine is a no-go.

Andrew Wiggins’ father Mitchell told an ESPN affiliate in Canada that the Timberwolves swingman would be the fourth guy in the dunk contest, but he has since made it clear that he has no interest in doing this year’s event. Down the road, he says, but not this year.

So, for now, LaVine looks like best option to round out the 2015 field. It doesn’t appear as if former champion Terrence Ross is getting any attention for a spot, and while DeAndre Jordan would likely be highly entertaining, he hasn’t shown much interest in participating and Plumlee kind of fills the “seven-foot dunker” quota for this year’s contest. Aaron Gordon can leap, but he’s just now getting healthy, and while Gerald Green has proven in years past that he’s one of the league’s all-time great dunkers, he’s not the greatest showman in a dunk contest.

If LaVine ultimately declines an invitation or ends up getting passed over for another dunker, it’s hard to imagine who that replacement would be. Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, LeBron James and our other favorite dunkers will happily watch the event from the bench, but will likely never participate in any at this point in their careers.

It’s a game for young men these days, and three of those four young men reportedly already have been chosen. And, unless Wojnarowski is wrong (and he hardly ever is), the fourth guy is probably halfway in the bag, as well.

Oladipo, Antetokounmpo, Plumlee and LaVine. That’s just about as much young star power as one can expect from a dunk contest these days. It should be one to look forward to.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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