Soaring, spinning, and cutting through the air like only the game’s best dunkers can, the 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest will afford defending champion Zach LaVine the chance to make history when he puts up his title Saturday night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The Minnesota Timberwolves guard, who famously reinvigorated the contest last year with some of the most unique dunks fans have seen in the competition’s 31 years, has the opportunity to be the fourth player to post back-to-back victories.
LaVine would join Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson, and Nate Robinson as the only players to win the dunk contest in consecutive years, as well as former greats Dominique Wilkins and Harold Miner as the other players to triumph twice in a career.
Another win for LaVine would also be the third ever for the Minnesota franchise, trailing only the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks four all-time victories.
LaVine will face significant challenges from Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton, Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond, and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon.
But while LaVine enters the competition with much fanfare and as the heavy favorite, he won’t exactly breeze to the title and admitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that coming up with new dunks is the biggest threat to him or any other throw-down artist.
“That’s the hardest thing,” LaVine said. “Back in the day, Michael Jordan could use the same dunk three times. I don’t want to do that. I could come out and use the dunks I did last year and people would be like, ‘Oh, he did last year.’ You need four or five new dunks that you haven’t done before, so it’s a little challenging but that’s what YouTube is for.”
Except for LaVine, all the other contestants will appear in the dunk competition for the first time in their careers, and luckily the rules are quite simple.
The contest will be two rounds and each player will get an unlimited amount of time to complete two dunks, but they will be allowed only three attempts per dunk. Each will face five judges who will score the dunks on a scale of 6 to 10, with the lowest potential score being 30 and the highest 50.
The two players with the best score after the first round advance to the finals, where the format is the same except the final score will combine the point totals from the first and final rounds.
The event will be the finale to the NBA’s All-Star Saturday night. Before LaVine takes flight the Skills Challenge will be the evening’s first event, followed by the Three-Point Contest. We’ve estimated the dunk contest will start at roughly 9:45 p.m. ET.
Start Time: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Live Stream: TNT Overtime