The 2016 Dunk Contest might have been the best of all-time. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon went head to head in what turned out to be an epic final round, and while LaVine was victorious, Gordon’s performance would have easily won many contests from past years. While LaVine, unfortunately, is not participating in the 2017 edition to attempt a three-peat, the NBA announced the field on Thursday evening and the participants were greeted with some level of apathy.
Gordon will return with first place on his mind, and he is joined by Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III and Phoenix Suns swingman Derrick Jones Jr. to round out the four-member field. While the star power lost with LaVine is worth noting, Gordon is absolutely tremendous and Jordan provides the “uber-athletic big man” component that many dunk contests include.
The other two contestants will likely be met with some skepticism but, in short, there is no reason to believe that both Robinson III and Jones Jr. won’t be tremendous additions. Robinson III is, of course, the son of former NBA All-Star Glenn Robinson and he has already contributed some highlight reel dunks in his young NBA career. Before that, though, he was flying through the air in a big way during his career at Michigan.
In the case of Jones Jr., he is one of the least established players to ever participate in the Dunk Contest. But when you look at his dunking profile, there is no reason that he can’t win the competition outright by replicating any and all of what he has put on tape in the past.
Jones Jr., who will turn 20 on Feb. 15 before taking the floor in New Orleans, has played only 11 minutes in his (very) young NBA career but he is a preposterous athlete that definitely belongs in the field. If you need more in-game evidence, this clip from the D-League should provide everything necessary to justify his candidacy.
Zach LaVine is, without question, one of the best dunkers in NBA history and the 2017 Dunk Contest takes a hit without his presence. With that said, it is quite possible that Jones Jr., Robinson III and even Jordan can provide plenty of noteworthy slams to entertain the masses on Feb. 18 in New Orleans.