2014 NBA All-Star Weekend is going to be a bit different than its predecessors. While the format for the All-Star Game remains the same and the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will operate in the same manner that it did last season, the dunk contest, three-point contest, and skills challenge have all undergone relatively major changes.
Arguably the most affected contest from these format-changes is the dunk contest. There will be no individual winner decided by judges like it has been over the past few decades. There will be a freestyle round to start things off, then all six dunkers will compete in a battle round. The winner will be either the Eastern or Western Conference, not an individual player. The fans will be able to vote for the Dunker of the Night, though, which is somewhat of an individual winner, but not in the traditional context.
While the Dunker of the Night voting more than likely will turn into a popularity contest, there’s the chance that one of the six participants could wow the masses enough that the fans have no choice to vote for him. Paul George would more than likely win a popularity contest, but in terms of a player putting up a ridiculous display of dunking, Ben McLemore is an interesting dark horse in the race.
McLemore hasn’t had a great deal of success in his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings, but there’s no denying his physical talents. This is a guy with a massive vertical and near-endless athleticism. He’s also talked about uncorking a 720 in the dunk contest this year. It’s hardly a foregone conclusion given the format, but McLemore could surprisingly wind up being Dunker of the Night.