Terrence Ross took the dunk contest back to its roots -- with no props, just height, coordination and velocity.
It was not a great dunk contest, but it improved as the night went on. Here are the best dunks from Saturday night. For our complete grades on each dunk, click here.
Gerald Green started things off great. This was his first attempt, cold, out of the box, and he nails it. Green had a great chance to win this thing if he'd pulled off his second dunk. (He tried putting the ball through twice by hanging on the rim. He couldn't pull it off in time, a common theme on the night.)
This one from James "Flight" White became very controversial on Twitter.First. White was overhyped to begin with because of his career success in dunk contests. Two, he used props, by bringing out flight attendants and air traffic control personnel. Three, he missed the dunk about five times before landing it, and by then his legs were tired. Four, and this is crucial. It's a two-handed dunk. That's known by players to be more difficult to execute, but it doesn't look as impressive as the cock-back on a tomahawk. And five, he was aiming for distance, but didn't clear the free-throw line.
Let's be clear, this dunk is incredibly hard to produce. It's just not iconic, becaus if you're going for distance, you must clear the free-throw line. Arbitrary or not, this is a style competition and you must go at least as far as those before you. Regardless, here's White's only completed dunk of the night. (He didn't have the legs for his second and time ran out on him.)
On first look, not a great dunk, because Ross took all but the final seconds of his time to pull this one off. The repeated misses really kill the dunk contest and they need to be limited in how many attempts they can pull. Regardless, the degree of difficulty on this dunk is higher than nearly any we say. Behind-the-back, 360? DANG, SON. Check out the GIF below.
Ah, Jeremy Evans. Master of the prop dunk. He brought out Mark Eaton. Ok, tall guy. Great. But you have to clear him standing (Evans did not), or do something spectacular on the landing (Evans did not). That this was able to advance him kind of shows how bad the contest was this year.
Kenneth Faried likely advances to the Finals had this one not been so weak. Faried's a power dunker, and he just didn't have the lift on this one. One of the issues with the contest is that if you get the elevation, sometimes you don't have the coordination. Have the coordination, miss the elevation. It's a balance that's hard to pull off for anyone.
The key with this one, as Shaquille O'Neal pointed out in the broadcast, is the velocity of the finish. The actual set-up isnt great, but for all-around execution at the moment of dunk, this is downright beautiful. A big part of why Ross landed in the second round.
Now this is more like it. Faried's size contributes here, this is a big guy, not just a tall guy, but a big guy, going off the backboard, through-the-legs, one-hand jam. Again, Faried's performance was pretty great, he just missed that first dunk by a hair. If he'd landed the first one flush, he likely goes over Evans. Alas. but this one was pretty great.
Eric Bledsoe redeemed himself with this one. The key on this is the finish. It's clean. That's a guard, a short dude, and he lands it with no rim, no catch on the ball. He just flushes it clean, and for a dunk of that difficulty, that's amazing. Not enough to get him into the finals, but a nice acquittal he needed.
OK, this one needed some explaining. Evans told reporters later that the painting he dunks over here, depicting himself dunking over a painting ("Yo Dawg..."), was painted by... himself. He painted the picture of him dunking over a painting he painted. Took him two weeks to finish and when he was done, he signed it. This is a pretty masterful moment that will likely get lost. It's hard to translate, but when you think abot it? That's pretty great.
My favorite part of this dunk, outside of the extension on his arms, is the way he made the exact face he makes in the painting. It's the little artistic moments.
I'd joked earlier that if Ross just did an homage to Vince Carter, doing at inverse (left vs. right, for example) of Carter's 2000 performance, he'd win. Then he shows up in a Carter jersey and does a damn fine impression. This one basically won it for him. Goodnight, thanks for coming, congrats, champ.
Apparently, Ross told reporters afterwards that this kid is the son of the guy who invented Twitter. So there's some cultural relevance. Dunking over a kid isn't impressive, but the straight up execution here is key. Again, Ross isn't using props (dunking over people isn't a prop, it illustrates elvation), he's just dunking at a high level. This is why he's the champ.
Now this one I liked, but you it wound up just being a "I'll just dunk it over a dude and look good and hopefully the painting dunk carries me." Evans extension on this is incredible, he's like Inspector Gadget, but he may honestly have wanted to just go for the 360 here instead. Still, a pretty worthy showing from the defending champion.