NBA All-Star Saturday Night Slam Dunk Contest Preview & Free Pick

Thursday, February 11, 2016 2:43 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 2:43 PM UTC

Minnesota Timberwolves high-flying 20-year-old Zach LaVine will try to defend his NBA Slam Dunk title at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as the fourth part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night.

<p style="float:right;margin-left:10px"><iframe allowfullscreen frameborder="0" height="189" src="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/video/embed/?videoId=31631" width="320"></iframe></p> <p><strong>What: </strong>2016 Slam Dunk Contest, NBA All-Star Saturday Night<br /> <strong>Where:</strong> Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada<br /> <strong>When:</strong> Saturday, February 13, 2016<br /> <strong>Time:</strong> 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Introduction: Dear Commissioner Silver, This Contest Really Needs Some Improving...</strong><br /> In the days before Twitter, SmartPhones and Dumb People, Male Homo Sapiens would enjoy the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest so much so that they wouldn’t be embarrassed to actually talk of it in public. Superstars like Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins not only helped try to win their teams NBA championships, but also participated in the Slam Dunk Contest and actually wanted to beat each other...really badly. Once it was an honor to be asked to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Weekend, but now it has almost devolved to a “I Didn’t Know He Was Even On That Team” thing where the contestants are known more for their high-flying Dunking skills rather than for being really good all-around professional basketball players. Dr. J would like to think we could have it both ways, but then again Thomas Jefferson probably thinks Republicans and Democrats are both insane, so we’re now obviously dealing with and evolving world in which tepid is the new norm and we all just have to swallow. Nothing like a $5 Footlong to achieve Nirvana these days, eh Bubba? Grimace and swallow. But enough bitterness about a World long gone, we must pontificate about a thing in which guys named Zach LaVine and Will Barton will be jumping really high and then creatively throwing basketballs down a 10-foot rim and then be judged by a panel of really old, laughing ex-NBA players. Maybe this is how we should elect our next President. And if so, Chris Christie has no chance.</p> <p>Last year as a 19-year-old, Minnesota Timberwolves G Zach LaVine (6-5, 189) won this competition and he has been made the overwhelming odds-on favorite to repeat this year (-300, Bovada). Maybe LaVine’s biggest creative competition will come from Denver Nuggets athletic SF Will Barton (6-6, 175) who attended the University of Memphis and is averaging an impressive 15.4 ppg and 6.1 rpg a game this season for Denver. Barton (+400, Bovada) will be participating in the Slam Dunk Contest for the first time, as will the contest’s other two participants, Aaron Gordon (+450, Bovada) of the Orlando Magic and Andre Drummond (+800, Bovada) of the Detroit Pistons.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Odds</strong><br /> Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves -250</p> <p>Will Barton, Denver Nuggets +400</p> <p>Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic +450</p> <p>Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons +800</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Past NBA Slam Dunk Champions</strong><br /> 1984—Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns</p> <p>1985—Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks</p> <p>1986—Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks</p> <p>1987—Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls</p> <p>1988—Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls</p> <p>1989—Kenny Walker, New York Knicks</p> <p>1990—Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks</p> <p>1991—Dee Brown, Boston Celtics</p> <p>1992—Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix Suns</p> <p>1993—Harold Miner, Miami Heat</p> <p>1994—Isaiah Rider, Minnesota Timberwolves</p> <p>1995—Harold Miner, Miami Heat</p> <p>1996—Brent Barry, Los Angeles Clippers</p> <p>1997—Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers</p> <p>1998—None (2Ball Competition replaced the slam Dunk Contest)</p> <p>1999—Lockout (Shortened Regular Season, No All-Star Game)</p> <p>2000—Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors</p> <p>2001—Desmond Mason, Seattle SuperSonics</p> <p>2002—Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors</p> <p>2003—Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors</p> <p>2004—Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers</p> <p>2005—Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks</p> <p>2006—Nate Robinson, New York Knicks</p> <p>2007—Gerald Green, Boston Celtics</p> <p>2008—Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic</p> <p>2009—Nate Robinson, New York Knicks</p> <p>2010—Nate Robinson, New York Knicks</p> <p>2011—<a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/nba/nba-betting-update-blake-griffin-serve-four-game-suspension/69019/" target="_blank" title="Blake Griffin To Serve Four-Game Suspension">Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers</a></p> <p>2012—Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz</p> <p>2013—Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors</p> <p>2014—John Wall, Washington Wizards</p> <p>2015—Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Strategy: Eliminate Down to Two Players, Then Take it From There and Then Hope...</strong><br /> Why are you betting on the NBA Slam Dunk, Contest? Either this marks a true test of degeneracy or a constant hunt for value or something. But if you must bet on this, it’s probably best to have a logical approach, which means first eliminating two of these high-flying cats for whatever reason. And much of this handicap will be done knowing the five judges will be a cynical but fair bunch who have all dunked themselves in NBA uniforms but who could collectively possibly reward the wrong guy by accident when all’s said and done. Dangling chads everywhere these days. The contest itself is a 2-Round event in which the four participants can do any type of Dunk they want to try without any Time limits. The players all have a maximum of three attempts to successfully complete each Dunk in both the opening and final rounds of the competition. The five judges—last year they were Dr. J, Nate Archibald, Chris Mullin, Bernard King and Walt Frazier—all then score each dunk on a Politically Correct scale of 6 to 10 (The highest a Dunker can score is 50 points while the lowest he can score is 30 points). The two dunkers with the highest combined scored from there two dunks in the First Round advance to a head-to-head Final Round. And the participant who has the highest combined score for his two dunks in this Final Round, Dunk-off type thing is then crowned the champion (and then we all bitch again about why LeBron, Kobe and Blake aren’t in this.)</p> <p>Defending champion LaVine is trying to join Michael Jordan (1987, 1988) and Nate Robinson (2009, 2010) as the only back-to-back winners of the Slam Dunk Contest, and, as the -300 odds reveal, he’s the prohibitive favorite and has the overall body type, leaping ability and long arms to be able to try the most creative types of dunks on Saturday night in Canada. Now whether or not UCLA product and 2nd-year man LaVine (12.2 ppg, 3.2 apg)—who was also selected to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night (TNT)—can be more creative and not mess up any high degree of difficulty dunking attempts is another thing. As far as eliminating two—and not because of the odds—to maybe not appeal to the judges or be creative enough to make it out of the First Round, it would be Detroit Pistons F Andre Drummond (6-11, 279) and Orlando Magic F Drew Gordon (6-9, 220). Why? Drummond won’t look as good coming back artistically coming back down to Earth after dunking with his 6-11 height and may not have the creative flair and repertoire that a smaller Forward or smaller player can have. Remember what Spud Webb (5-7, 133) did back in the day? And from watching some clips, Arizona product Gordon seems to lack the overall flair that LaVine or Denver Nuggets SF Barton possess.</p> <p>So the <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/nba-basketball/" target="_blank" title="Check Our Live NBA Betting Odds ">NBA odds</a> seem appropriate and it could be LaVine and Barton dunking for this year’s title in the Finals on NBA Saturday Night. And Although LaVine has no doubt been working on an arsenal or whirling-dervish, Windmill dunks to appease the masses, the judges may expect something athletically crazy out of him to get 10’s whereas a newer guy like Barton may impress the judges more with whatever he does because they will all have never have seen him compete in a Slam Dunk Contest before. And that little cynicism to rewarding a guy who has already won may reflect with a point here and there in the 6- to 10-points scores of the judges. No Denver Nuggets player has ever won a Slam Dunk Contest, and in the name of ABA legend David Thompson, it seems fitting that Barton becomes the first on Saturday night in Toronto. But the real way of looking at this is in the odds and the -250 chalk of the favorite and defending champion LaVine, which almost makes him off limits until you realize there are only four players in this meaningless contest which could be so much better in so many ways. Reading the odds like this in such a small field makes one think that LaVine will be a shoo-in to advance to the Finals. But if he ends up facing the athletic Barton and a true dunk-off evolves, although LaVine knows how to score points with the judges, but may be a little short on energy after participating in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge the night before (Friday). Barton will want to impress in his first time in the spotlight, and at 4/1 odds, may be worth a small shot as our <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/nba/" target="_blank" title="Free NBA Picks &amp; Previews">NBA pick</a>.</p> <p><strong>NBA SLAM DUNK CONTEST PICK: </strong>Will Barton, Denver Nuggets +400 <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=808&amp;book=Bodoginarticle" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Start wagering at Bovada">at Bovada</a></p>
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