The annual Sprite Slam Dunk Contest is scheduled for Saturday night as the marquee event in the new East vs. West format of All-Star Saturday Night in Houston. Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz is back to defend his title. Here’s a look at the field:
Eric Bledsoe — L.A. Clippers — 6-1, 195/Highlights
He’s the smallest dunker in the field and usually takes a backseat on his own team to Chris Paul. But Bledsoe is athletic, smooth and can soar like a bird. He’s averaging 9.7 points and shooting .429 on 3-pointers this season. At 6-foot-1, he’ll get the benefit of the underdog vote and his small stature will make any high-flying look more impressive.
Jeremy Evans — Utah Jazz — 6-9, 194/Highlights
The Human Pogo Stick flew into last year’s contest under the radar of notoriety, but leaped off with the title by using a combination of props and showmanship. He dunked with a camera on his head, slammed two balls while jumping over a seated helper and cleared a Karl Malone “Mailman” impersonator in the finals. Playing just 5.4 minutes a game this season.
Kenneth Faried — Denver Nuggets — 6-8, 228/Highlights
If nicknames counted in the scoring system, The Manimal could take home the trophy simply by showing up. But the bundle of energy from the Nuggets, who was the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge MVP on Friday night, also packs plenty of substance. He’s averaging 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds and could surprise with a replay of his self-pass-and-catch-off-the-backboard dunk from college days at Morehead State.
Gerald Green — Indiana Pacers — 6-8, 210/Highlights
The hometown favorite won the contest in 2007 by jumping over defending champion Nate Robinson, then came back a year later and wowed the Las Vegas crowd in the prelims by blowing out the candle on a cupcake that was sitting on back of the rim. Trying to resurrect his career with the Pacers, he’s still one of the game’s most spectacular dunkers.
Terrence Ross — Toronto Raptors — 6-6, 195/Highlights
The #LetTerrenceDunk Twitter campaign by the Raptors paid off. As his playing time has crept up this season, so naturally have the opportunities to throw down impressive dunks. With a vertical leap of 37 1/2 inches and long arms, he can grab offensive rebounds and load up to rattle the rims.
James White — N.Y. Knicks — 6-7, 215/Highlights
The 30-year-old is the oldest dunker in the field, but not since Yoda has a “senior citizen” been able to perform such tricks. “Flight White” beat out Gerald Green in a contest at the 2010 Russian Cup when he took the ball between his legs from the free-throw line. If he repeats that here, the competition is probably over.