Before highlight machine Derrick Jones Jr. represents the NBA D-League in the NBA’s Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, the minor league’s finest will take center stage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
And they have a lot to live up to…
The NBA D-League’s dunk contest has delivered All-Star Weekend highlights since 2008, most recently 5-foot-10 John Jordan touching the sky in Toronto last February.
This year’s event will be put further into the spotlight when the preliminary round is held during NBA All-Star Practice and streamed on Facebook Live beginning at 12:30 PM ET. NBA TV will air the final round at halftime of the NBA D-League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire, which tips at 2:00 PM ET.
Meet the six-man field for this year’s NBA D-League Slam Dunk Contest presented by Verizon:
Dunker Profile: Jordan entered last year’s contest as the dark horse in a loaded field — having no in-game dunks on his resume heading into the event — and proceeded to live up to his name. In front of the hometown Raptors 905 crowd, the 5-foot-10 guard unleashed a double-pump reverse, a pair of two-handed windmills and a 360 to run away with the victory. Now he enters All-Star as a known commodity, having played a role in helping the 905 surge to the top of the Eastern Conference this season.
Dunker Profile: Hoosier fans can attest to Williams’ ability to throw down momentum-changing dunks. While all six dunkers this season went undrafted in the NBA Draft, Williams comes in with experience at the next level, having been a Memphis Grizzlie all season before being waived on Jan. 30. An appealing 3-and-D prospect, he’s averaged 14.4 points in 19.5 minutes over 14 games with the Grizzlies’ affiliate this year.
Dunker Profile: The man who may be this year’s dark horse did play basketball in high school, spent his first collegiate hoops season at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas, and helped lead Wyoming to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012. Cooke may be a virtual unknown, but the former high school wide receiver has the size and explosiveness to dominate an event like this.
Dunker Profile: A Chicago native, McKinnie made his hometown Windy City Bulls through the team’s first-ever open tryout before its inaugural season. He’s since emerged as a force in Windy City’s frontcourt, averaging 15.0 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Dunker Profile: One of 14 players from June’s NBA D-League Tryout who made a roster, Burrell will arrive at the Superdome as perhaps an even bigger undergod than McKinnie. But the Memphis product (by way of Lee College in Texas) has shown bounce in his step as a rookie with the Long Island Nets, posting 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds while starting 28 of 33 games.