Posted Jan 6 2011 5:45PM
Here's a look at the four contestants in the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest:
The early, middle and late favorite has knocked the NBA on its dunking ear in his rookie campaign. No one in the league dunks with Griffin's combination of fury, explosion and power. That includes you, LeBron. Griffin's ability to out-jump anyone for a lob is just step one. Once he gathers the ball, he has the control and trajectory to get to the rim and punish.
The Clippers have become must-see just to witness Griffin and who he's going to pulverize that night. Working on the block, he needs barely a half-step on a defender to throw it down. Griffin is the kind of guy that doesn't need props to show off how high he can get or how strong he really is. You're off the hook, Timofey Mozgov.
The only little man in the competition is going to benefit due to the sheer air Jennings has to navigate to get to the iron. The garden-variety two-hand reverse is going to appear that much more impressive coming from someone who probably really isn't 6-foot-1. Throw in a nice leg kick, and the judges will eat it up.
The decision to include Jennings is curious considering he's currently out with a foot fracture, but the Los Angeles native is expected to be ready in plenty of time for the contest. And while he doesn't dunk frequently in games, there must be a collection of slams Jennings has filed away for occasions such as these.
An actual dunk contest winner, the 21-year-old also falls in the category of big man with big dunks. Ibaka won a competition a couple of years ago in Spain, so he's no stranger to judges breaking down his skills. He lobbied the league for inclusion after witnessing the event live in Dallas last year. Wish granted.
Ibaka's dunks, so far, have been mostly of the alley-oop variety. His natural athleticism and above-average hands have made Ibaka a favorite of Russell Westbrook. Ibaka is also able to use his mighty wingspan to just dunk over people when others would have no reason even attempting to dunk. He reportedly can dunk from the foul line. We'll see.
When it comes to wingspan, no one in this contest can touch McGee's 7-foot-7 expanse. The third-year pro turned Summer League into his own personal video game and the slams just keep coming. Instead of just threatening to tear the rim from the backboard, McGee employs an element of smooth in his repertoire.
His lanky frame can also be anything but smooth, as limbs tend to fly in every direction while flying by the basket. Of the four competitors, it's unlikely anyone can challenge McGee on pure height. That combination of size and athleticism figures to give this Wizard his greatest advantage when Feb. 19 rolls around at Staples Center.
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