Derrick Jones Jr will win the 2017 NBA Dunk Contest. I made that statement long before Zach LaVine announced he was declining an invite to what was being billed as the rematch between him and Aaron Gordon. I actually said it a year before LaVine and Gordon had their epic battle in 2016.
It was May of 2015 and the setting was our All-American game. The skinny 6’7 kid heading to UNLV put on a show with a variation of between-the-legs-head-above-the-rim dunks that had us saying that was the best performance in our contest history. Even better than our 2014 winner, Zach LaVine! In Zach’s defense, the dunks he did in our contest weren’t on the level of what he was pulling out against Gordon or some of the practice dunks – 360 from the free-throw line – we have recently seen from him. But the way Jones won our event without breaking a sweat or having to dig in his bag of tricks, it had me believing the self-proclaimed “best dunker in high school” could beat any and everybody at any level in a contest.
A few months later I saw this dunk session…
And felt more convinced. A few months after that, this bit of nastiness happened…
And I was saying, “I can’t wait until this guy gets into the league so he can take on LaVine.” Then the epic 2016 dunk-off between Will Barton and Andre Drummond happened! Confused? You probably forgot those were the other two “competitors” in the LaVine and Gordon dunk-off. Anyways, so I was thinking how sick would a LaVine, Gordon, DJ Stephens, Derrick Jones Jr contest be? Then Jones went undrafted and I was fearing it wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully, the Phoenix Suns heard my prayers and signed him on September 25th, 2016. But my dream lineup was still looking shaky. After throwing down some ridiculous preseason dunks, the Grizzlies cut DJ Stephens. Then Jones was sent to the D-League, where he posterized defenders and dropped teasers like this on a nightly basis.
So here we are on Wednesday, January 25th of 2017. As I was enjoying the #WCW posts of the day, I heard LaVine was declining to defend his title and Aaron Gordon was still in. I also heard Jaylen Brown was out and former Ballislife All-American dunk contest contestant Glenn Robinson III was in. Then I heard Derrick Jones got the invite by the NBA and was “considering.” The only thing he’s probably considering is which friends and family members he wants to invite to New Orleans to watch him do this…in warm-ups.
So while Jones ponders his decision and the internet unfairly blasts LaVine for not wanting to do the contest again, let’s watch a few more dunks by my pick for the 2017 NBA Dunk Contest.
Wait! What about Aaron Gordon? Why am I dismissing the man who probably deserved last year’s title, especially since I think he had the most impressive set of dunks in contest history? I might be wrong and I hope I’m wrong, but I think Gordon will unfairly be punished for doing, or trying to do, the dunks he did last year. And I’m not sure he has anything better. I’m not sure Jones has anything better either but Jones has the advantage of being the underdog most people have never seen before.
So for these reasons, I’m saying, again, Derrick Jones will win the 2017 NBA Dunk Contest.