5 Rookies Who Could Win the 2014 NBA Dunk Contest
5 Rookies Who Could Win Dunk Contest
Don't look now, but NBA All-Star Weekend is right around the corner. The festivities are set to begin on Friday, Feb. 14 with the Celebrity Game and will culminate with the league's 63rd annual All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 16.
The starting lineups for the All-Star Game have already been announced with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Kyrie Irving set to represent the East while Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin will represent the West. The All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.
Despite several emerging stars in the current rookie class, most projections of said reserves don't feature a rookie. First-year players like Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke likely won't have the opportunity to join the league's superstars on the big stage, but several rookies could still capitalize on the weekend by performing well in other events.
The Rising Stars Challenge will be their first opportunity to do so as the game will feature a mix of first and second-year standouts. But the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest might provide the easiest path to stardom for a high-flying newcomer.
Many argue that the dunk contest isn't what it once was when legends like Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins effortlessly soared through the sky and captivated basketball fans with each and every flush. But there are still several young athletes in today's league who are capable of putting on an entertaining show.
Although most likely won't receive an invite, here are five rookies who are capable of winning the 2014 dunk contest.
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5. Jamaal Franklin
Rookie guard Jamaal Franklin is only averaging 1.7 points per game with the Memphis Grizzlies this season. He was an extraordinary leaper in college, though, where he once threw an alley-oop to himself on a fast break.
4. Shabazz Muhammad
Former UCLA standout Shabazz Muhammad has struggled to have an impact as a rookie with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and was briefly sent down to the NBA's Development League as a result. He isn't void of athleticism or leaping ability, though, and would surely put on a show if invited to the dunk contest. He won the McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest as a senior in high school less than two years ago, after all.
3. Tony Mitchell
A small-school prospect, a late second-round pick and a player who's spent time with the D-League's Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season wouldn't exactly inspire much excitement if named a contestant. But Detroit Pistons forward Tony Mitchell has the wingspan and bounce to change that perception with his dunks.
2. Ben McLemore
Ben McLemore and his 42-inch vertical would be an excellent choice to participate in the dunk contest. At Kansas, McLemore would often elevate so high that his head would noticeably clear the rim. It's that type of hang time that could steal the show on the second night of all-star festivities.
1. Victor Oladipo
The Orlando Magic's Victor Oladipo is the most likely in this list to actually get invited to the dunk contest. Oladipo took the nation by storm with a dominant junior season at Indiana, showcasing explosive athleticism and relentless defensive tenacity, which led to becoming the second-overall selection in the NBA Draft. He hasn't disappointed during his rookie year with the Magic and likely wouldn't disappoint in the dunk contest either.