NBA All Star Weekend, 2018 NBA Slam Dunk Contest: Handicapping The Field

The most exciting event of the Saturday night festivities is usually the dunk contest, and this year’s field has the potential to delight and excites fans once again. While, as usual, the big names of the NBA remain abstinent from the event, it does offer the chance to see four exciting young stars.

One, Victor Oladipo, is an actual All-Star but his competition consists of three young players ready to take the stage and put on a show. Considering former dunk contest champion Larry Nance’s son, Larry Jr., is in the competition, it could offer some nice nostalgia, too. Let us take a look at the four contestants and attempt to, somehow, discern who might take the crown this year.

Odds c/o

Dennis Smith Jr. (+165)

Dennis Smith Jr. is the favorite to win this year’s event, and considering the Dallas guard is just 6-foot-3 with an electrifying array of dunks and a high vertical, it should be no mystery as to why he is favored. The smaller players typically look more impressive completing the same dunks that the big men do, and two of the contestants in this year’s field are 6’8” or taller. That makes Smith Jr. the most likely to throw down some really impressive ones, given that he has to fly quite a bit to put it down. Smith has not been short on highlights this season either and is a dark horse figure in the Rookie of the Year race. It should be a treat to see him in this contest, and the only thing limiting him is creativity. What will Smith Jr pull out of the bag?

Victor Oladipo (+400)

Victor Oladipo has appeared in the dunk contest before, and this year he probably has a better shot to win it than his previous appearance. Oladipo is 6-foot-4, so like Smith Jr, he too will have to really elevate to throw down the impressive ones. Limiting Victor Oladipo is the fact that he “only” has a 34-inch vertical, but that figure is deceiving because Oladipo is not really a vertical leaper so to speak. Even so, Oladipo’s dunks tend to range in the hard but not difficult realm, and he is the underdog in this field. That said, he is having one heck of a season and making his first All-Star appearance, so any competition he puts up here is just gravy on his weekend.

Donovan Mitchell (+215)

Donovan Mitchell could win this year’s Rookie of the Year award. He is averaging nearly 20 points per game, and his three-point shot is as lethal as his dunk. But he is also 6-foot-8. That said, he could go in the form of Dominique Wilkins, albeit Mitchell is not quite the leaper “Nique” was. Mitchell is slightly more favored than our last contestant, who we really like as the underdog from this field. Mitchell may surprise, but he also might be fool’s gold—it’s really tough to handicap this event!

Larry Nance Jr. (+225)

Nance Sr. won the league’s first dunk contest in 1984, and his son probably jumps even higher than his father did. He could really do some impressive things, and his power on the dunks are bound to stop the show. Nance Jr. is our favorite to take this event, and not simply due to pedigree, but also due to the fact that he is so quick off the floor. It should be really interesting to see what the 6’10” forward does because big men typically do not fare well in this event. We call this year to be the exception to that, as he takes home the title just like Nance Sr. did.

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