The 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest is set to take place on the Saturday of All-Star Weekend at Barclays Center. While the competition won’t feature any top superstars, it will feature four up-and-coming players and dunkers.
Victor Oladipo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mason Plumlee were all taken in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Zach LaVine is the lone participant that was drafted in 2014, when he was taken No.13 overall. All four of this year’s contestants will be in the Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge, which features the best players that have been in the league for less than two years.
Below is a look at the betting odds for the 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, courtesy of Bovada.lv, as well as a prediction for the event.
Zach LaVine (-120)
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ rookie has had the least amount of success in the NBA of any 2015 contestant, but he’s the odds-on favorite to win the event. LaVine only averaged 9.4 points per game as a freshman at UCLA, but he was a lottery pick in last year’s draft because of his elite athleticism. The 19-year-old showed what he could do at Jamal Crawford’s Pro-Am in Seattle this past summer, and he might be unbeatable if he has a similar performance on Saturday night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (+250)
He isn’t the favorite, but Antetokounmpo wasn’t given the nickname “The Greek Freak” for no reason. Though he’s still very raw, the 6’11 swingman has used his incredible athleticism and 7’3 wingspan to become one of the most improved players in the league. Not only has he helped turn the Milwaukee Bucks into a playoff team, but he’s done so while compiling several highlight-reel dunks. It would come as no shock if Antetokounmpo took home the top prize.
Victor Oladipo (+300)
Oladipo has put up the best numbers of any contestant in this year’s dunk contest, averaging 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 2014-2015. The No.2 overall pick in last year’s draft hasn’t experienced much team success with the Orlando Magic, but he’s shown flashes of becoming a potential dunk contest champion. Oladipo is an explosive athlete, and he even threw down a 360-degree dunk during a game this season.
Mason Plumlee (+700)
The second-year player out of Duke is the biggest longshot in Saturday’s contest, but he can’t be discounted as a possible winner. He might not have the athleticism of the other participants, but’s he had some really impressive in-game dunks. Plumlee, who is listed at 6'11, is also the most frequent dunker in this year’s contest, leading the way with 87 slams this season. The winner of the Slam Dunk Contest is often a wing player, and Dwight Howard is the only player as tall as Plumlee to take home the award.
Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo