The NBA slam dunk contest is one of the highlights of All-Star weekend and comes with plenty of betting intrigue. This year, the four competitors include a former winner and two players that finished runner-up in recent contests. We break down the odds to win the NBA slam dunk contest for each of the contestants and give you our betting pick for the final All-Star event on Saturday night.
WHAT ARE THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST RULES?
This is a two-round event with each player getting two turns to perform a dunk during the first round. Their dunks will be graded by five judges and the two players with the highest combined scores move on to the final round. In the finals the two remaining dunkers get two more turns with the highest combined score taking home the title.
Keep in mind that since this is a judged event, legal sportsbooks in the U.S. will not be taking wagers and overseas odds can vary greatly.
ODDS TO WIN NBA SLAM DUNK CONTEST
|Aaron Gordon||Orlando Magic||+150|
|Derrick Jones Jr.||Miami Heat||+160|
|Pat Connaughton||Milwaukee Bucks||+450|
|Dwight Howard||Los Angeles Lakers||+600|
This is Gordon’s third time in the contest and he seems hungry to win after a fantastic runner-up performance in 2016 where he got three straight perfect scores of 50. Gordon’s dunks in that contest were some of the best that have ever been seen, including my personal favorite where he jumped over Orlando’s bizarre mascot, grabbed the ball, passed it underneath his legs and slammed it down with authority.
Unfortunately for Gordon, Zach Lavine also had a jaw-dropping display in 2016 and won probably the best slam dunk duel in recent memory. Gordon has terrific jumping ability, length, coordination and creativity and is the betting fave for good reason.
Gordon was the runner-up in 2016 and Jones Jr. was the runner-up the following year, albeit in a far less entertaining contest. Jones is an incredible leaper who casually throws down 360-degree, between-the-legs dunks during warmups. The Heat small forward has terrific power and elevation and will put on a show.
After rookie sensation Ja Morant declined his invitation to this event, many fans on Twitter were pretty disappointed when the Bucks guard was named as the final competitor. Despite the obvious Woody Harrelson-inspired stereotype, Connaughton is actually a very impressive dunker who had the second-highest max vertical in NBA draft combine history at 44 inches. And as you can see from the above video, the Notre Dame product has been throwing down insane dunks since he was a teenager.
That said, this is Connaughton’s first time competing in this event and while his hang time is impressive he doesn’t have the explosiveness of Gordon or Jones. Judges and fans tend to go wild for the sorts of vicious throwdowns that the two favorites are capable of.
If Howard managed to claim this contest after winning in 2008, it would be a heartwarming comeback story for the big fella that once laid claim to the Superman title. The 34-year-old has made a comeback of sorts, becoming an integral role player for a Lakers team that has a strong shot at the NBA title.
But let’s be realistic, Dwight isn’t anywhere close to the athletic speciman he was a decade ago. Time takes its toll on every athlete and it has been especially brutal on Howard, who has been hit with numerous back injuries since 2012. Howard fans will be better off rooting for him to win his first NBA championship than another slam dunk title.
NBA SLAM DUNK CONTEST BETTING PICK
While it’s not always that profitable to back a favorite, all indications are that this will be a two-horse race and both Gordon and Jones Jr. offer plenty of value. Although Gordon competed as the betting favorite in 2017 and didn’t make it into the final round, he was coming off a foot injury at the time and didn’t seem to have his usual bounce.
Gordon also attempted extremely creative dunks in the first round of that event and couldn’t quite pull them off with his usual panache. When it comes to the creativity department, Gordon seems to be ahead of the field and now that he’s healthy, the sky is the limit. Put your money on the favorite and back Gordon on Saturday night.