With All-Star weekend just under two weeks away, the NBA has finally announced the dunk contest participants and the sharpshooters taking part in the three-point contest.
Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon were both runner-ups in previous years and are returning in hopes of winning it all. Oladipo—who will also be making his All-Star Game debut that weekend—came in second to Zach LaVine in 2015, back when he was a member of the Orlando Magic. A year later, Gordon was defeated by LaVine in what many consider one of the best slam dunk contests in recent years.
Alongside the two returning dunkers are Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr.
Smith Jr. is a rookie guard who’s been making noise all season and has been living up to his expectations as the number nine overall pick in the NBA draft by averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.9 rebounds a game. Nance Jr. also comes from basketball royalty—his father won the inaugural slam dunk contest for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 1984, was a three-time All-Star, and was blessed with the nickname “The High-Ayatolla of Slamola.” Nance Jr. was the first player drafted by the Lakers in 2015 with the 27th pick, and he continues to prove himself a valuable member of the team. His decision to compete in this year’s contest should come as no surprise, as he slammed it down on Kevin Durant during a Lakers home game late last year.
But before the dunk festivities begin, a Steph Curry-less three-point contest is set to go down. Eric Gordon will try to defend his 2017 victory against ’16 winner Klay Thompson. Tobias Harris, Kyle Lowry, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Paul George, and Wayne Ellington round out the rest of the participants.