* * *
A rookie or two that you’d like to see in next month’s Slam Dunk Contest?
* * *
Steve Aschburner: I remember the days when the NBA’s best veterans were willing to compete in the Dunk Contest, but fine: Phoenix’s Josh Jackson could use the kick-start and restart of a nice showcase in L.A., in the event his confidence is waning from an underwhelming first half of the season. And Utah’s Donovan Mitchell would be as driven to win this thing, I think, as he is about the rest of his game. Besides, he plays in Salt Lake City, so he could use a few more eyeballs on him as he make his Kia Rookie of the Year case.
Shaun Powell: Dennis Smith and Donovan Mitchell. Both are explosive and creative and willing and able to put on a show. Smith in particular would be a delight, because he's shorter and therefore would be a sentimental candidate. Overall, though, with all due respects to those two and Jayson Tatum, the rookie field lacks the wow-player who'd bring the skills to steal the show.
John Schuhmann: Donovan Mitchell, for sure. His combination of raw athleticism and body control should make for some fantastic dunks (and replays). This alley-oop from Sunday was pretty incredible considering how fast he was running the floor and how hard it is (so they tell me) to catch a 35-foot lob pass with one hand. John Collins would be an interesting candidate, too, because that guy is really bouncy.
Sekou Smith: I'll take Donovan Mitchell in any slam dunk competition. And Dennis Smith and Josh Jackson should have automatic invites. And Smith would go into the competition as the favorite, based on what I've seen from him in the past and certainly this season. Someone his size doing the things he can do is perfectly suited for a All-Star Saturday night. But my rookie wild card is Oklahoma City's Terrence Ferguson. If what I've seen from him in recent weeks is any indication, Ferguson has the sort of bounce that could shake up the competition.