Zach LaVine gave a performance for the ages last year during NBA All-Star Weekend’s electrifying Slam Dunk Contest. The second-year Minnesota Timberwolves center will face some of the league’s best dunkers in an attempt to defend the high-flying crown during this year’s competition in Toronto.
Challenging LaVine’s crown will be Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets, and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic.
Drummond, the 6-foot-11 22-year-old with the Detroit Pistons, is the only center participating in the event. The Jordan Brand-sponsored big man – who also made the Eastern Conference All-Star team – is known for throwing down rim-rocking dunks on his opposition. Although Drummond has a six-inch height advantage over LaVine, centers haven’t fared well in the contest as of late, with the last center to win coming in 2008 when Dwight Howard defeated the competition.
Barton, a 6-foot-6 forward in his fourth season in the league, and Gordon, a 6-foot-9 Nike-wearing forward in his second season, will also look to take LaVine’s dunking crown away from him. The Nuggets forward – who hits the court in Under Armour – is performing well off the bench for the team, averaging 15.5 points a game – the highest average of his young career, with many coming from his above-the-rim theatrics. Gordon’s averages are up for the Magic with his extended playing time, putting up an average of 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, averaging 21 minutes a game coming off the bench – up from last season’s 17 minutes a game.
Although Magic guard Victor Oladipo put up a solid performance in 2015, the competition from beginning to end belonged to LaVine – who entered the contest in the Nike Kobe X. It will take an epic performance from Drummond, Barton or Gordon to upset the reigning Slam Dunk Contest champion.