Donovan Mitchell to Participate in 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest
Jazz rookie selected to replace Orlando’s Aaron Gordon; Will forgo Skills Contest.
It was announced today that Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has been selected to replace Orlando’s Aaron Gordon in the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. The event will be part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 17, which will be televised by TNT starting at 6 p.m. MT. Mitchell was scheduled to compete in the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge, but will subsequently forgo that to participate in the Dunk Contest.
In addition to Mitchell, the other Dunk Contest competitors include Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Los Angeles Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. and Dallas’ Dennis Smith.
In the two-round event, participants can perform any dunk they choose. The players have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first round and the final round. Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a high score of 50 and a low score of 30.
All four competitors get two dunks in the first round. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round. The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the champion.
Mitchell is the seventh Jazzman to compete in the Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, joining Darrell Griffith (1984 & 1985), Blue Edwards (1990 & 1991), David Benoit (1993), Jamie Watson (1995), DeShawn Stevenson (2001) and Jeremy Evans (2012 & 2013).
In 49 games (41 starts) in his first NBA season, Mitchell is averaging a team-best and rookie-leading 19.7 points, along with 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 31.9 minutes per game. Mitchell leads all rookies in points scored (964), 20-plus point games (24), 30-plus point games (six), three-pointers made (115) and is the first rookie since Tyreke Evans (2009-10) to average over 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal per contest. Mitchell totaled a Jazz-rookie record 41 points on Dec. 1 and 40 points against Phoenix on Feb. 2, marking the first time a rookie has posted two 40-plus point games in a season since Blake Griffin in 2010-11.
He has earned Kia Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for games played during December and January and is averaging 23.3 points, 3.7 assists, 3.6 boards and 1.7 steals per contest since Dec. 1.