Every year, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest provides basketball fans with a display of athletic excellence. Ever since the first dunk contest was introduced in 1984, a myriad of memorable moments have come out of the main event of All-Star weekend. From Michael Jordan‘s free-throw line dunk to Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon‘s spectacular showdown, the contest almost never fails to disappoint.
This season should be no different, as the dunk contest will be held in Staples Center in Los Angeles. Ever since Lebron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, the city of angels has once again been enthused with energy for basketball. The spotlight of L.A. will shine bright on the high-flyers and it should bring out the best of the four contestants who decide to participate.
While there may be some players who may get an invite and decline, there are a select few who should be heavy favorites to enter. For a dunk contest taking place in Los Angeles, there should be an All-Star roster of contestants to fit the occasion. Here are the top five dunkers that we should see in the 2019 dunk contest.
1. Larry Nance Jr.
Larry Nance Jr. is already a part of basketball dunking lore. His father, won the very first dunk contest in 1984. Last year, he came oh-so-close to winning, but got beat out by Donovan Mitchell in the final round. However, Nance Jr. can cement himself as the best dunker in the league with a contest win.
Nance Jr. should have a shot at redemption this year, in Staples, against his former team in the Lakers. It would make for great theatre, and add even more layers of drama to the event. Larry can become a legend if he were to ‘wow’ the L.A. crowd with his immaculate leaping ability.
2. Donovan Mitchell
As previously mentioned, Mitchell is the defending slam dunk champion. Although he hasn’t lived up to hype in his sophomore season, he is still one of the most athletic players in the league. Mitchell can reinvigorate his season by defending his crown from last year, while showing us even more flashy moves.
Mitchell’s outstanding vertical leap and reach give him the edge over other contestants. He should be considered the favorite to repeat this year, but it will be a bitter battle to do so.
3. OG Anunoby
The second-year Toronto Raptors player has shown tremendous improvement in his overall game, and is in heavy consideration for the Most Improved Player award. Yet, his dunking ability has never been in doubt. What better way to reward the tremendous improvement in play from Anunoby than with a spot in the dunk contest?
OG deserves a spot, as the Englishman has provided incredible dunks ever since his days at Indiana. Anunoby is a high-rising dunker and he would surprise many people who are still unaware of his game. The big stage opportunity can turn OG Anunoby into a household name.
4. Jaylen Brown
Another underrated player that could benefit from the international spotlight of the dunk contest is Jaylen Brown. Since Brown was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2016, he has done nothing but rack up poster dunk after poster dunk. His vicious slam dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo was a friendly reminder to the league that he should be an entrant this year.
Brown is ambidextrous when finishing at the rim, as shown in that vicious dunk over Giannis. His amazing vertical ability should cement him a spot in the dunk contest. Furthermore, who wouldn’t want to see a Celtic try and win in the Lakers’ house? The best rivalry in the sport would be reignited, even in the slightest of ways.
5. Lebron James
I know, crazy right? Lebron’s been in the league since 2003, and has had the chance to participate in the dunk contest every year. Also, he’s 33 going on 34, and really only has one kind of dunk–the Lebron tomahawk.
But imagine if this is the year he finally enters? It would create an unparalleled amount of hype surrounding the contest. After all, All-Star weekend is in Los Angeles this year. What better way to further endear yourself to Laker nation, and NBA fans in general, by entering the dunk contest in his first season in L.A. and his 16th in the league.