Zach LaVine is returning the luster to the NBA dunk contest.
With the exhibition quickly becoming stale, the then 19-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves rookie put on an absolute show in 2015, injecting some desperately needed excitement into the contest. And most importantly, doing it without any unnecessary props. Just dunking. Just wowing the crowd with his athleticism and creativity, like a dunk contest should be.
LaVine is back in 2016, and with him, so is the anticipation for this year’s dunk contest.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know to watch, along with the complete list of participants:
Slam Dunk Contest Viewing Info
Date: Saturday, February 13, 2016
Start Time: Around 9:50 to 10 p.m. ET. Skills Challenge starts at 8 p.m. ET, then the three-point contest, then the dunk contest
TV Channel: TNT in the United States, TSN in Canada, SportsNet in Canada
Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Unless LaVine misses a bunch of his dunks, it’s hard to see him not winning. We’ve seen him throwing down ridiculous, effortless jams long before last year’s contest:
Every once in a while we get players who are made for this competition, and LaVine is one of those guys. It felt like he was just scratching the surface of what he can do a year ago, and he should be regarded as the clear favorite.
He has some interesting competition this year, though. Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, in particular, combines some crazy athleticism with a 6-foot-9 frame and thunderous power. This is video of him in 2014:
Then there’s Will Barton, who is 6-foot-6 and possesses Inspector-Gadget length. He has thrown down a 360 in game action, so it’s enticing to think of what he might come up with for a dunk contest:
Andre Drummond is the underdog. Centers usually come in at a disadvantage because their dunks just don’t look as spectacular, and Drummond in particular is known more for his raw power than his artistry. Still, he’s no slouch:
Ultimately, though, I have to be boring and pick LaVine. I just don’t see anyone topping him.