The highlight of All Star weekend in the NBA used to be the dunk contest, however now we are forced to watch players only the most hardened NBA bettors would recognize.
Zach LaVine (-110)
Unless you’re from the Seattle area or a fan of the Wolves or the Bruins at UCLA, you might not know too much about 19 year-old rookie, Zach LaVine. However just typing his name into the YouTube machine and pressing go, you will immediately understand why he is the favorite in the NBA Odds to win the dunk contest. At -110, he is head and shoulders above everyone else in the field, and he will likely be head and shoulders above the rim come this weekend. While he and Victor Oladipo are the smallest members of the field, LaVine may be the best athlete in the competition (sorry Giannis Antetokoumpo fans). The youngster is going to have a nice bag of tricks, but at the price, I am laying off.
Giannis Antetokoumpo (+200)
My NBA Pick for the dunk contest victory is the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. At +200, and with his body and leaping ability, he could easily dunk from the free throw line. I don’t know if it’s taboo for a Bucks player to give homage to a Bulls great of the past, but with his size, he could do some crazy stuff. Think back to dunk contests of old. Dwight Howard dunked on a 12-foot rim, and I am convinced that Antetokoumpo might be able to dunk at 13-feet. Just emphasize the freakiness, Giannis!
Victor Oladipo (+300)
While Victor Oladipo may arguably be the best NBA player out of this bunch, he is also the dark horse in this competition. He is a smaller guard who plays for a bad team, but one piece of video might convince you he could win. Our friends at Pro Basketball Talk have a nice video of Oladipo doing a 360 dunk with 30 seconds left in a close game against the Rockets. If Oladipo has the balls to attempt a 360 dunk at the end of a close game against a good Western Conference opponent, I can’t even imagine what he is going to bring out for the dunk contest. Watch out.
Mason Plumlee (+700)
Mason Plumlee is the big underdog in this one mainly because he’s a big man and no one respects bigs (expect Howard) in the dunk contest. It may also be a little bit because of his Caucasian ancestry, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is he is still almost every bit of an athlete as the three other members of the field. He is long, athletic and he can jump with the best of them. There is a reason he was selected to be a member of team USA this past summer. While I don’ t think he’ll win, he could make it past the first round.
Bonus NBA Odds
Since it’s the All Star Break, the editors at SBR have decided to throw me some bonus odds for the dunk contest for everyone’s enjoyment. Here are my selections:
First Player to Miss All Dunk Attempts
This one is easy for me. LaVine is the youngest member of the field, and while he may be the best athlete, the rookie might get a little caught up in the moment of trying an all or nothing dunk. It could send him to the bench. Plus, this year in the first round there is a limit of three attempts, which makes this one a no brainer for me.
NBA Props Pick: LaVine (+250)
Will the NBA Change the Rules to the Dunk Contest Next Year?
The saying “Death and Taxes,” should be amended to include the NBA changing the rules of the dunk contest. I can’t remember a year in my life where the dunk contest had the same rules as the previous season. It’s inevitable. This year there will be five judges and they will score it from 6-10, there is a limit on dunk attempts, and all props must be approved in advance! What is this Soviet Russia?
NBA Props Pick: Yes (-1,000,000)
Who will be the First Player to Dunk over a Teammate or Former Legend?
While all of these would be hilarious depending on whom they chose, the best possible combination would be Plumlee dunking over Dr. Julius Irving. The leader and innovator of playing above the rim, getting jumped over by Plumlee would be an epic dunk contest moment. Would Dr. J let Plumlee do it, that’s a whole other question. My second choice for this one would be Antetokoumpo dunking over his coach Jason Kidd for not playing him as much earlier in the season.
NBA Props Pick: Mason Plumlee (+10,000)