The Skills Challenge has become more entertaining with the inclusion of big guys, the three-point contest is at its best now that we’re in the Pace-and-Space Era, but the main attraction of NBA All-Star Saturday Night will always be the Dunk Contest. That’s especially true this year, as the 2018 contest features an absurdly exciting quartet of dunkers in Victor Oladipo, Larry Nance Jr., Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr.
The contest should start sometime around 9:15 p.m. ET (there’s no precise start time, but All-Star Saturday Night starts at 8 p.m. ET, and the Dunk Contest is third after the Skills Challenge and Three-Point Contest) and will be broadcast on TNT. If you don’t have cable or a cable log-in, you can watch the game live online at no cost by signing up for a free trial of one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to an extensive Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including TNT. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch a live stream of TNT on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: TNT is included in each of the four main channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay two months. Once signed up, you can watch a live stream of TNT on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: TNT is included in both the “Sling Orange” and “Sling Blue” channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch TNT live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
A key to an entertaining dunk contest is keeping things fresh, so it’s good to see three first-time participants (Oladipo is the only “veteran,” having competed in the 2015 edition), including two rookies. Youth tends to equal ingenuity, so there’s a lot to like about this lineup.
We’ll start with Nance because there’s a lot of potential here. 1. He’s the son of iconic dunker Larry Nance, who took down Julius Erving in the first-ever dunk contest back in 1984. 2. It’s his return to LA after being traded last year. 3. He has a freakish blend of length and athleticism.
A lot of Nance’s best in-game dunks are him posterizing people, so success here hinges on his creativity. Knowing his bloodline, it’s probably safe to say he’ll be fine in that regard. Or, since they’re in LA, maybe he can just bring out Brook Lopez and recreate this:
The oddsmakers’ favorite, though, is Dennis Smith Jr, who is built for this contest. He smallish (6-foot-3), which always makes the dunks look better, he could probably jump over a giraffe (alright, not quite, but he has a ridiculous 48-inch vert), and he tends to dunk like the basket just disrespected his family.
While Smith is an explosive, angry leaper, Mitchell is a little more smooth and effortless. But beyond that, there are a lot of similarities. Mithcell is also 6-foot-3, and he is also often looking down at the rim during his dunks.
Oladipo is in the midst of a monster season, averaging career-highs pretty much across the board. But don’t forget he finished second to Zach LaVine in the 2015 contest, so he has experience, plus he incorporates a lot of 360’s into his dunks:
I’m going with Nance, but it’s easy to imagine any of these four guys putting on a show Saturday night. Buckle up.