The Sprite Slam Dunk competition has continually been one of the highlights of All-Star Weekend. Many have complained that this year’s field is weak, but I don’t think we can actually assess those kinds of things, because every year players surprise us. Moreover, all four of these guys are either rookies or sophomores, so we’re really only just starting to get an idea of what they are capable of.
Betting Odds taken from Bovada.lv
Iman Shumpert (-175)
Shumpert is the shortest participant this year at 6’5″ and has already shown some great athleticism playing for Mike D’Antoni’s high paced offense. Shumpert can get off the floor, and it usually comes down to who is the most creative in contests like this. We haven’t got a great idea of what Shumpert is capable of yet, but that holds true for all four participants this year. At -175, I don’t think Shumpert offers a lot of value because I really don’t see him as the clear favorite that NBA oddsmakers do.
Paul George (+350)
George is the only non-rookie in the competition and he’s also the only starter, now that Shumpert has fallen to the bench with Linsanity and J.R. Smith on the scene. George is best known for being a great defender, but remember, it is his athleticism that makes that possible. George doesn’t seem to get too creative in games with his dunks, but that applies to a lot of participants of the past in this competition. This will give George a chance to show what he can do when he’s not worried about missing, since he doesn’t get many run outs playing for the Pacers.
Derrick Williams (+500)
Williams showed great athleticism at Arizona, but hasn’t received a lot of time for the improved Minnesota Timberwolves this season. He has the hops, but is also the tallest player in this competition at nearly 6’9″ and that often works against participants because it is less impressive when they do the same dunks as smaller players. For that reason, I don’t like Williams’ chances.
Chase Budinger (+700)
This is actually my favorite, despite the odds. Budinger is a former beach volleyball player with amazing hops who finishes lob passes very well and could employ some type of bouncing lob or aerial lob in the contest, that will shock many. I wonder to some extent if he is this big of an underdog because he is white. I know that sounds silly, but he really is the best dunker in this competition and at +700 you’re getting ridiculous value. The best dunkers don’t always win, though, which is what can make betting on dunk contests a total crapshoot.