Conventional wisdom used to say big men didn’t do well in dunk contests. Never mind that Larry Nance, Shawn Kemp, Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwight Howard stood as notable exceptions to the rule — the NBA’s All-Star Weekend event has generally been reserved for lanky wings and explosive guards.
Not so much this year. As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, the 2011 NBA dunk contest field is full of big guys: Blake Griffin (6-10), Serge Ibaka (6-11) and JaVale McGee (7-0) are on the preliminary list, along with 6-1 point guard Brandon Jennings.
On paper, it looks like a good one. I’ve been watching Jennings dunk since he was a sophomore in high school, and back then he was doing windmills off the bounce and backwards crams. As a dunker, he reminds me a little of Dee Brown. McGee is a highlight-reel regular with his alley-oop finishes and tip dunks, Ibaka has been compared to a young Kemp with his athletic ability, and Griffin has been arguably the most exciting player in the NBA this year.
Notable in their absence from the early reports: three-time dunk champ Nate Robinson, Dunk of the Year candidate J.R. Smith, and of course, LeBron James.
Keep in mind, this field is not yet confirmed. The League is planning another dunk-off like they did last year between DeMar DeRozan and Eric Gordon for the official fourth spot. Which means one of the aforementioned four dunkers is not a lock for the actual contest. Some names being thrown around for that other dunk-off spot have been Will Bynum and Josh McRoberts.
Who is your pick?