Although many have said that the Slam Dunk Contest has been losing its touch in recent years, the competition has always been a fan-favorite event during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.
Yes, now even NBA stars are dissing the contest and you can see it reflected on their participation, but we are all hoping that this fresh group of young and athletic players can show us what they are all about and hopefully bring this event back to life. However, who are the these new faces?
Yep, they aren’t Pelicans’ Zion Williamson or Ja Morant from Memphis, but these four names are sure to surprise us as they are well-known for slammin’ and of course, thirsty for fame! Our biggest hope is that they are as creative as they are talented, unlike last year when Jalen Green wrapped a phone around his neck and missed his dunk eight straight times.
The Knicks will have a representative at the Slam Dunk Contest for the third straight year 👀 pic.twitter.com/QdWSGSimdv
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) February 8, 2023
As the Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night on February 18, from the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, let’s get to know the four confirmed participants at this moment:
Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans
Although Trey Murphy III is only 22-years old, he is no stranger to the NBA. Standing at six-foot-eight, the foward began his steps in professional basketball in 2021 after being drafted as the 17th pick by the Grizzlies, only to be signed off to the New Orleans Pelicans.
As he’s enduring his second year in the NBA, he just recieved his first call to appear in the All-Star weekend chain of events, having been selected to be part of the Jordan Rising Stars. This comes as no surprise as the power foward is averaging 13.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 53 games this season. Not too bad for a sophomore.
The thing is, the kid gets better week after week, as just three days ago he scored a career-high 30-point game against the Sacramento Kings, also adding four rebounds and two assists to his name.
Question is, can Murphy slam? Watch the highlights of Sunday’s match against the Kings and judge it for yourself:
The kid can dunk!
KJ Martin, Houston Rockets
Yet another 22-year-old ready to tear it up in Salt Lake City! Son of former player Kenyon Martin who played 15 seasons in the NBA, Houston’s young foward has basketball in his blood.
Playing his third campaign for the Rockets, Martin is progressively becoming an undeniable starter for his squad, having already participated in every single contest for his team this season. Averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in only 25 minutes per game this year, it would be an understatement to say he is a menace to any defense.
Just this past Monday he flew over the Sacramento defense, including star Domantas Sabonis, all the way to the rim. Check out his latest dunk:
KJ has been finding his looks off ball with 17 of his last 23 shots made coming from a cutting dunk or type of shot/layup in the paint.
Lean: KJ Martin o19.5 Pts+Reb – Over in 9 of last 13 starts. pic.twitter.com/6Ytgxa4aPi
— Dj Fitz (@idjfitz) February 8, 2023
And when he’s not slamming by himself, he often recieves teammate Aleperen Sengün’s pases to score alley-oops. Believe me, we are in for a treat.
MacMaclung, Delaware Blue Coats (G-League)
Although he’s only played two NBA games in his career, 24-year-old Mac McClung has been in the radar of successful basketball franchises ever since he starred in college with Texas Tech. After that, he had short spells with the Bulls and the Lakers, then after he was a Warriors and Sixers player for only a few days, until G-League’s Delaware Blue Coats finally signed him as it was a no-brainer.
The thing with McClung is, ever since he was a kid he’s considered some kind of slam dunk prodigy. Standing only six-foot-two, the kid can fly off his feet! Just look at his top slams from his first campaign in the G-League:
Yeah, one thing is playing with the Blue Coats and another in standing in front of Heat’s Bam Adebayo. But when the young talent had his opportunity to debut for the Lakers last year, he did not miss his chance and dunked over the Denver Nuggets with all his might!
With a name like McClung, you gotta dunk, don’t you? The reigning G-League Rookie of the Year just might take our breathes away on February the 18th.
Jericho Sims, New York Knicks
The last one to complete the list was confirmed today. After Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe just pulled out of the contest, almost immediately he’s been replaced by second-year Knicks center Jericho Sims.
Suddenly, twitter erupted in excitement as New Yorkers assure the fans around the NBA that Sims is a high-flying giant sent out to impress us all. Just take a look at what he can do:
Jericho Sims in the dunk contest! Let’s gooooo pic.twitter.com/FOrsKMBQVn
— Knicks Fan TV 🏀🎥📺🏁 (@KnicksFanTv) February 8, 2023
The youngster is not only famous dunking, but also for being able to jump towards the rim and overcome its height with only his head, and no hands. Even though Sims is huge standing at six-foot-nine, he is incredibly athletic. As New York’s center, his play has expanded as he’s already been taken in consideration by coach Tom Thibodeau this season, getting into 43 games and averaging 3.8 points a night.