The 2016 NBA Dunk Contest features four players, but in reality, it’s a three-man race to beat out reigning champion Zach LaVine.
Thanks to this fun-filled look at all four participants, you’re going to have a great idea of whether anyone can stop LaVine from becoming just the fourth player in league history to win back-to-back slam titles. You can check the NBA lines by clicking here.
NBA Odds for the Contenders
Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) 2/3
If ever there were a player born to compete in the dunk contest, it’s clearly Zach LaVine. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ high-flying second-year point guard. LaVine has thrown down 29 dunks this season after slamming home 39 last season. More importantly, LaVine says he is more than prepared to defend his title.
“I’ve been practicing,” LaVine said one day after it was announced that he will headline the event. “I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.”
“Those weren’t my four best, but they were four good ones,” LaVine said of last year’s winning effort. “I’ve got to make sure I make them. That’s what I did last year. I made them all on the first or second attempt. That’s the main thing. if you do it right, I try to make them all and bring people to their feet again.”
Will Barton (Denver Nuggets) 7/1
Now in his fourth season, 25-year-old Will Barton is still not a household name, but he could be soon. Barton is averaging a career high 15.5 points per game, but more importantly, he’s thrown down a whopping 34 dunks this season, including one‘posterization’ over Rockets’ 7-footer Donatas Motiejunas.
Barton says he’s not going to practice much for the event as he prefers to let his adrenaline take over.
“I’m more of an in-the-moment jumper,” Barton says. “Like, once my adrenaline getsgoing and I see the crowd. If I went to practice dunking right now I won’t be jumping ashigh because I have no adrenaline, and I’ve been playing a lot of games, and I’m playing a lot.”
Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic) 9/2
The 6-9 second-year forward reminds a lot of people of Blake Griffin athletically and it’s easy to see why…because Gordon can jump through the roof. Gordon has thrown down 34 dunks this season after slamming home 22 in his rookie season a year ago. One thing’s for sure, Gordon is really excited about appearing in his first NBA dunk contest.
“I’ve been wanting to be in the dunk contest,” Gordon said. “I love dunking so much. I grew up loving dunking — dunking on small hoops. I always wanted to dunk, dunk, dunk, and now I get to dunk on the bigger stage in front of thousands of people. So it’s awesome. I’m extremely enthused.”
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) 10/1
Drummond has thrown down an insane 86 dunks this season and has recorded at least 114 dunks in each of his previous three seasons. Nevertheless, big men haven’t traditionally done very well in this contest and I don’t believe Drummond will have the variety necessary to beat out LaVine or anyone else in this year’s contest.
For his part, Drummond is keeping his dunk contest plans a secret.
“I can’t tell you. You got to wait and see,” Drummond said recently. “I can’t give anybody any ideas.”
The Pick: I really like Will Barton, but I’m thinking the guy with the best shot of upsetting Zach LaVine is Orlando’s Aaron Gordon. In the end though, I just can’t go against Minnesota’s high-flyer in a contest that seems like it was made for his acrobatic aerial act.
My Pick: Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Andre Drummond