With 2013′s NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest going underway this evening, I sat down with the guys at Fansided and talked about what would come out of it. Roundtables are back! This one features Ben Beecken, Brad Rowland, Reece Hooker and myself.
1. What do you think of the new format, with each finalist being chosen from the West and the East?
: Eh. Could definitely take it or leave it. Unnecessary and gimmicky are the two words that come to mind. I’m not really sure why it’s happening. In reading the rules, I did not become any less confused, and it seems as though it may only serve to keep the two best dunkers from competing in the finals. What if Gerald Green and James White are the two best dunkers of the night (which wouldn’t surprise anyone), and one of them is not allowed to compete in the final round?
: I’m not a huge fan of it. For me, the biggest thing is that it’s not necessary. The format was fine last year, so why change it? Obviously, the biggest risk it holds is that the best players wouldn’t go head to head in the finals. My question is, what benefit does it add to take away from this cost?
: I’m not thrilled with the format, but I can see its benefits. Obviously, the biggest drawback is the (distinct) possibility that the two best dunkers won’t face off in the Finals. That’s a huge issue for me, but if we were to ignore that, I could see the upside. It gives fans a “side” to choose for the entire night, and with that, the league is probably envisioning more consistent ratings/exposure. With that said, I still don’t believe that this is the way to go.
: I’m not a fan of it, only because that will mean that it won’t be two of James White/Gerald Green/Terrence Ross in the final. In most other years, it probably wouldn’t bother me but with such a stark contrast between the talent in the West and East; it’s a little bit annoying.
2. Who are your finalists from each conference?
Ben: Gerald Green and Jeremy Evans. James White has hype-machine going for him and seems as though he could be overconfident, with the hole no-practicing thing and everything. Green has had years to prepare for his next contest while bouncing around overseas and back to the D-League. You can’t tell me that the guy that completed the cupcake dunk in 2008 doesn’t have more tricks up his sleeve. And in addition to being last year’s dunk champion, Evans is a pogo stick, plain and simple.
: I’d have to go with James White and Kenneth Faried. We’ve been waiting for James White to dunk in this contest since he destroyed his overseas competition with a rare legitimate free throw line dunk. Faried on the other hand, is the most well-known player in this contest. I don’t know what anyone should make out of that.
: James White and Jeremy Evans. With the interest of full disclosure, I firmly believe that the top three guys in this contest all represent the Eastern conference, so the “Finals” certainly won’t feature the best two dunkers. I think White is the best pure dunker in the field, and he outlasts the big-time challenge from Ross and Green. Evans wins the West by default thanks to a power-only entry (Faried) and the first power-only guard that I can ever remember. In fairness to Bledsoe, I think he could be electric, but since we’ve never seen it, I’ll take the defending champion.
: I’m taking Eric Bledsoe in the West, edging Jeremy Evans narrowly (the judges are a sucker for a little guy who can bounce). You can’t bet against James White from the East. Gerald Green will do all he can to keep Flight out of the final, but you get the feeling James White has been waiting a long time to dunk on the grandest stage of them all for quite a while.
3. Who wins?
Ben: I’ll roll with Green. I’m still intrigued by his creativity, and let’s not forget that this happened just last year.
: James White. He’s got the hype-train behind him, as well as years of dunk contest success. This is something he’s been anticipating for a long time, I’m sure he’ll be ready.
Brad: James White. He’s the second-best dunker I’ve ever seen (behind Vince Carter circa 2000) and that’s enough to give me the confidence that he’ll put it together. He’s 30 years old now, which could present a loss in explosion, but with his length and repertoire, he’s the favorite, and he’s been training for this for his entire career. If White loses the Eastern conference, I think whoever wins between Ross and Green will beat the West Champ, but White is the pick for me.
: It might be the conservative answer, but I’ve watched far too many grainy YouTube Dunk Contests to pass on James White.Get your 50s ready, gentlemen. Flight White is ready to take off.
4. Will the NBA try to sham a KIA commercial in a James White dunk this year? What’s the over/under on this happening?
Ben: Nah. At least not a KIA. Who’s the sponsor for the dunk contest? Sprite? Maybe someone will be jumping over some beverages? Probably not. Since nothing too sponsor-centric happened last year, I would expect something awkward to happen that involves an ill-fitting sponsor. Although this contest does lack the star-power of a Blake Griffin, so it’s anyone’s guess, really.
Seerat: Wellllll, the NBA caught a lot of flack for the Blake Griffin dunk from fans, but it’s not out of David Stern’s ballpark to try to sham something in there. I’d set the over/under at about 40%. I’m not sure which way I’d bet on it though.
: If White does something absurd from the free-throw line, I’m positive that Kia will try and spin it into a commercial. They can’t go with a pure rip-off from Blake Griffin (can they?!), so the car-leap is probably out, but I wouldn’t put it past David Stern and company to allow some big-time product placement here.
: Over 99. I’m expecting James White to dunk a KIA branded ball in a KIA singlet over the new KIA car, on a dunk brought to you by KIA. Would be ludicrous to think maybe the league made it mandatory White has to endorse KIA if he wants to be a part of the dunk contest?