As the hype continues to rise, Dennis Smith Jr. makes his Dunk Contest debut on Saturday night.
The moment NBA fans have long waited for as the new year started; NBA All-Star weekend. And the excitement might be even more with Mavericks fans as rookie Dennis Smith Jr. will make his Verizon Slam Dunk Contest debut tonight in Los Angeles.
Competing against DSJ will be Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, newly acquired Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., and fellow rookie Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. All contestants are making their first appearance in the contest besides Oladipo, who got second-place in 2015.
Oladipo has the experience competing during All-Star weekend but will he have the flare to match the young legs of the following three contestants? He came with some props in 2015 as he walked onto the court singing but fell short to Zach LaVine in the finals.
Larry Nance Jr. is the tallest of the contestants by far, standing at 6’8″. His long wingspan should come in handy but we’ve seen in the past that taller dunkers have more trouble impressing the fans and judges.
Now, we get to the favorites. The rookies.
Donovan Mitchell has shown during the first half of the season that he’s capable of leading a team, making him a ROY candidate. His leaping ability is out of this world and we can definitely expect some high-flying dunks from Mitchell.
Like Mitchell, Dennis Smith Jr. has the hops to wow the judges. DSJ has been known for his monstrous dunks since he was in high school. Though Mitchell may have had more impressive dunks during the season, DSJ has the bunnies to bring the title home to Dallas. As long as he has the creativity in his dunks, he’ll be in the finals with ease.
Prediction: DSJ over Mitchell in the finals.
An all rookie final will help continue the effort to revitilize the Dunk Contest. As DSJ said after arriving in L.A. for the festivities, “For the city of Dallas, for the city of Fayetteville, and for the whole Smith family, I’ve got to do my thing.”