2014 NBA Dunker of the Night Betting Preview
The Slam Dunk contest has been one marked with great anticipation on All-Star weekend. Though the event no longer draws the league’s top players (That’s you, LeBron), the high flying acrobatics usually are a delight for fans to see. Even though this year doesn’t bring the likes of LBJ, Paul George and Terrence Ross are two of the most exciting dunkers in the league. The remainder of the field has an ample chance of winning, but George and Ross are the two frontrunners according to NBA oddsmakers at Bovada.
Paul George (7/4)
Paul George originally said he was not going to participate in the contest again, but later acquiesced to please his fan base. That speaks volumes to the fact that George is not simply showing up because he was invited; he wants to put on a show for Pacers fans, and fans around the league.
George already had possibly the greatest in-game dunk ever, when he pulled up for a 360 degree windmill dunk on a fast break this season. The dunk rivaled Vince Carter’s from the dunk contest, but it was done in game play. George may not even need any gimmicks like his “glow in the dark” dunk to win this. He’s the most athletic and he likely won’t need a lot of creativity to please the judges. Let’s face it: all the great dunks have been done, and the only thing that remains is for George to do them, and do them better.
Terrence Ross (3/1)
Terrence Ross made big waves this season by posting a 50-point game and two monster highlight reel dunks in the same week. Ross has blossomed as his Raptors have, but that really has nothing to do with his dunking ability. Ross is an explosive leaper and is well coordinated in the air. If George happens to fail on some of his attempts, this is Ross’ contest to lose.
John Wall (9/2)
John Wall, like Ross, has made major improvements in his game this season. It’s been well documented that Wall has off the chart athleticism, since high school, ad the fact that he is the second shortest in this contest actually works to his advantage. Wall has higher to jump, so some of the same dunks that might not be that impressive for a swingman like George or Ross, could get higher scores for Wall. That said, I don’t like Wall’s chances anymore than Ben McLemore or Damian Lillard.
Ben McLemore (11/2)
Ben McLemore brings a lot of youth and athleticism to this dunk contest, but there isn’t a lot of hype surrounding him, and that could work in his advantage. McLemore is a big underdog, and a lot of it is likely due to the fact that he just hasn’t got the playing time to build an impressive highlight reel yet.
Harrison Barnes (11/2)
Harrison Barnes is the dark horse to win this, in my opinion. Though Barnes is 6’8″, like George, he too can fly well above the rim, as attested by some of his ferocious in-game dunks. But that’s the thing: I think Barnes is mostly a game dunker, a guy who reacts on the spur of the moment to posterize people. Will that translate to good contest dunks where he has no defenders to contend with? I really don’t know. But if I’m going with a long shot this year, it’s Barnes.
Damian Lillard (6/1)
Damian Lillard made news by entering five All-Star weekend events, and this will be his most tiring. The dunk contest is taxing. It’s hard to bounce back repeatedly at that level and continue to do it round after round. Fatigue will be a problem for Lillard more than the others, after playing in the Rising Stars game and also participating in the three point contest and skills challenges. Lillard might be mighty mouse, might be the energizer bunny, but unless he wants to risk injury, it’s hard to fathom Lillard having the stamina to take this contest.