Top 10 Candidates for 2013 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest

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Top 10 Candidates for 2013 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest

2013 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest
Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports Images

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest is an iconic event in the league. Images of Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Spud Webb rising and gliding through the air in front of the All-Star crowd will forever strike a chord with fans.

But coming into 2013 All-Star Weekend, so much has changed with the dunk contest. There are no longer judges, it’s become somewhat gimmicky with skits, car-jumping and so on happening and, possibly most importantly, the biggest stars in the league are no longer the one’s competing.

Other than Blake Griffin in 2011, his rookie season, or Dwight Howard in 2008 and 2009, there haven’t been any certifiable stars in the dunk contest in recent memory. That’s just not the place that it’s at. It’s now a contest that, for the most part, showcases young or underappreciated athletic players.

For instance, after Griffin won the dunk contest two years ago, he declined to come back and defend his title in 2012. His reasoning was that dunk contest weren’t really his cup-of-tea. However, there’s a strong possibility that he felt that he was becoming too “big” for the dunk contest.

You can’t entirely blame him for that feeling. He didn’t make things the way they are in the dunk contest. It’s just the way things are now.

That trend is also likely to continue, for this year at least. So, as much as everyone would love to see LeBron James and Kevin Durant dueling it out or Griffin back competing or Russell Westbrook throwing dunks down angrily, it’s not going to happen.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t guys who can put on a show in Houston during All-Star Weekend. So, when they announce the contestants in early February for the 2013 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest, the following ten guys should undoubtedly be in the running.

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10. Jeff Green

Jeff Green
Mark L. Baer - USA Today Sports Images

Just a little over a year removed from heart surgery to fix and aortic aneurysm, Jeff Green seems to have earned himself a spot in the 2013 dunk contest.

Green has bounced back this season and shown his immense athleticism with dunks like this. He also fits the criterion that seems to have emerged for the contest of not being a star and being underappreciated for his athleticism.

The only question about Green’s spot in the dunk contest is whether or not he will put on a good show in the contest or whether he is a better in-game dunker than anything else. There’s no denying his potential to do some awesome things at 6’9” with a 38-inch max vertical leap.

However, pure athleticism doesn’t always translate to success in the dunk contest, which is a possible drawback to putting Green in the contest. Regardless of that though, he definitely deserves some consideration.

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9. DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan
Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA Today Sports Images

As a member of “Lob City” and the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s no secret that DeAndre Jordan knows how to hammer down a dunk. Just his measurements alone make a compelling case as to why he should be a part of the dunk contest.

Jordan is 6’11” and has a ridiculous standing reach of 9’5.5” because of his 7’6” wingspan. On top of that, he adds a max vertical leap of 30.5 inches. So theoretically, Jordan could get rim on a 12-foot goal. He’s not ashamed to show that type of leaping ability either, with jams like this.

However, the reason Jordan is so low on this list is because of his star-power. He’s no superstar, but he is a noticeable piece on one of the most high-profile teams in the league, which could hurt the chances of him being selected or him wanting to compete. But it would be a ton of fun to see him do so.

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8. Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried
Chris Humphreys - USA Today Sports Images

There are many reasons that Kenneth Faried earned himself the nickname “The Manimal.” One of them is the way that he is able to viciously dunk.

Faried plays the game with unbridled athleticism that wows you multiple times per night. At only 6’7.5”, Faried has a seven-foot wingspan and a 35-inch max vertical leap that allows him to throw down massive jams like this.

Faried undoubtedly has the ability and the attributes to impress fans with his dunks. But the questions about him competing in the dunk contest are whether he’s just an impressive in-game dunker, much like Green, and whether he’ll be able to do anything beyond dunk with power.

Given the athletic ability of Faried and his wingspan, it seems likely that he’ll definitely be able to do more than dunk with power. Whether he’s more than an in-game dunker though, is still in question. But chances are it’d still be a good time watching The Manimal in the dunk contest.

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7. Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis
Steve Dykes - USA Today Sports Images

The number-one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis has been remarkable in his rookie season. He’s skilled, freakishly long and incredibly athletic, which all help him to succeed in the league. Those are also a lot of the skills that you need to succeed in the dunk contest.

Davis should follow in the footsteps of Griffin in 2011 and try his hand in the competition this year. Davis’ max vertical leap is unmeasured, but he is 6’10.5” and has a 7’5.5” wingspan and obvious ability to get off the floor. That’s why he’s able to hammer home flushes like this one from his college days. \

And it’d also be a wise move for him as he’s on the New Orleans Hornets. Davis has been having a fantastic year, but for a bad team. Doing the dunk contest would be a way for him to let people know he’s still around and can still do a lot of awesome things.

The only problem with Davis is that he’s been playing a substantial amount of minutes for a rookie this season, will probably be a part of the Rising Stars Challenge and will possibly want a break. But NBA-fans would be in for a treat if he decided to participate.

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6. JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee
Chris Humphreys - USA Today Sports Images

JaVale McGee has unreal physical capabilities that are often overlooked because of his association with being a “knucklehead.” But you can’t deny that he’s a fantastic physical specimen.

McGee is a seven-footer with a 7’6” wingspan and a 32.5-inch max vertical leap, an incredible jump for a guy his size. Those things are why he’s so jaw-dropping with his athletic ability and why he’s able to unleash highlight-reel dunks like these two.

He competed in the 2011 contest and made it to the finals where he (inevitably) lost to Griffin. McGee is quirky and fun enough to be able to create some crazy dunks, but can also successfully complete them with his athleticism.

McGee isn’t the “knucklehead” he used to be labeled as, though he still has his moments, but that doesn’t take away his goofiness and the athletic ability that make players perform well in the dunk contest.

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5. Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes
Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports Images

Rookie Harrison Barnes wasn’t really known in his college years for his dunking ability. However, it’s becoming a massive part of his game at the pro level. Just ask Nikola Pekovic how he feels about Barnes’ dunking ability after this jam.

Barnes measures in at 6’8” but has a tremendous 39.5 max vertical leap, hence why he’s able to rise over centers like Pekovic to bang it home. He’s also bursting with other athletic skills like good hands and impressive agility, underrated skills that can really help players do some amazing things in the dunk contest.

The question concerning Barnes is in no way his ability to throw down fantastic dunks, but rather whether he can break out of his normally stoic and level demeanor and find some creativity and put on a good show for the fans.

Even if he was unable to do that though, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that he would still be able to do some things that would leave plenty of fans cheering. That’s the type of guy you want in the dunk contest.

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4. Jeremy Evans

Jeremy Evans
Bob Donnan - USA Today Jeremy Evans

Jeremy Evans has played in only 17 games this season, averaging 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.2 minutes per game. Chances are if you didn’t see last year’s dunk contest, you have no idea who Evans is. But if you did see him the competition last year, you understand why he’s on this list.

Evans won the dunk contest last season, throwing down one of the more impressive dunks in recent memory, leaping over a seated Gordon Hayward who threw up two balls that Evans dunked at the same time. Wow.

Given his performance last season and obvious ability, Evans almost has to be asked to come back and defend his title. If he does though, he needs to focus on doing dunks like the one over Hayward consistently rather than pulling out gimmicky dunks, like when he jumped over Kevin Hart dressed as a mailman in reference to Karl Malone.

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3. Gerald Green

Gerald Green
Brian Spurlock - USA Today Sports Images

In 2007, Gerald Green won the dunk contest and finished second behind Dwight Howard in 2008. He hasn’t competed in the competition since then, but that’s largely due to the fact that Green was out of the league at the start of last season.

But after coming back towards the end of last year and now playing solid minutes for the Indiana Pacers, Green has to make his way back to the dunk contest. After all, he was the one who threw down arguably the dunk of the year last season, blowing up YouTube, Twitter and a whole bunch of other places on the Internet.

He hasn’t lost a bit of the athleticism that he showcased in the 2007 and 2008 contests and is still in the process of making his comeback to the league. The dunk contest would be a wonderful way to remind people that he’s back and that he’s still a special talent.

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2. Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports Images

It’d be a lie to say that Terrence Ross has played well enough to be in consideration for Rookie of the Year at this point in the season. However, he’s done more than enough to be a candidate to compete in the dunk contest at All-Star Weekend.

He has a 37.5-inch max vertical leap to compliment his 6’7” frame and has great timing when it comes to his jumps and avoiding block shots, which can prove valuable in the dunk contest.

Not only has he put his physical skills into action with incredible dunks like this put-back reverse jam, but he also plays very loose and free on the floor, which shows an ability to add creativity and innovation to the dunk contest, something that the fans love to see.

There really seems like there’s no way that Ross won’t be flying high come All-Star Weekend in Houston.

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1. Paul George

Paul George
Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports Images

Yes, Paul George is the second Pacers player in the top-three, but both he and Green deserve to be in the dunk contest. George competed last year and finished third, but that’s mostly because he tried to make his best dunk too gimmicky by doing it with the lights off and glowing in the dark and no one could see the dunk.

George is stunningly athletic and shows that off frequently. Just check out this 360 between-the-legs jam he threw down in Shanghai this summer. If that doesn’t make you want to see him have another crack at the dunk contest, I don’t know what will.

The Pacers budding-star is exciting and powerful when he dunks, both things that work in his favor. There’s no denying that he’s one of the most talented players in the league when it comes to dunking and that he deserves to show his stuff again. Let’s just hope he keeps the lights on this time so we can see him throw it down this time.

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