Slam and other media outlets are reporting that the 2011 Dunk Contest field is as follows: JaVale McGee, Brandon Jennings, Serge Ibaka, and as everyone hoped, Blake Griffin. It’s an interesting field and one where I’m not quite what to expected, but it’s certainly different.
First off, there are a whole bunch of big men here. Griffin and Ibaka are listed at 6’10″ while McGee tops the ranks at 7’0″. I don’t usually like big guys in the dunk contest, mostly because they can’t hang in the air as long as smaller players and are often less dexterous with the basketball. However, these three guys could break that pattern. Griffin and McGee have both shown the ability to manipulate the ball and have otherworldly hops.
McGee isn’t quite as incredible as Griffin, but has certainly demonstrated the willingness and ability to put on a show in the past. Ibaka is also a fantastic leaper, but may not have the skill that the other competitors do. I’d venture to say that Ibaka will be the first cut this year. He’s a great dunker, but his highlights are typically putbacks or directly off the pass. That doesn’t bode well for his ability to adapt to the Dunk Contest.
Jennings is the wild card here, as he’s a bit of an underrated dunker. His handles, quickness and shooting ability have gotten most of the attention during his time in the NBA. His best dunks are either from high school, overseas or different Summer Leagues. But, as this highlight reel shows, the dude can get up. With the difference in height, his hops should stand out even more from the competition. If Jennings is totally healthy come All-Star weekend (he’s currently out with a broken foot), he could surprise a few people in the contest.
But really, this year’s edition of the Dunk Contest is the Blake Griffin show. The guy has shown leaping ability that’s head-and-shoulders above the most athletic NBA players this year, drawing comparisons to a young Shawn Kemp among others. As the highlights below show, he’s a remarkable talent. For the Dunk Contest to be really satisfying this year, Blake Griffin is going to have to come with some ridiculous dunks. I think he can do it. He’s made absurd dunks so commonplace that a new one appears almost every single night. It’ll certainly be fun to see him unleash his talent on the biggest dunking stage of them all.