NBA: Three first-time participants gun for Slam Dunk crown


Posted at Mar 03 2021 12:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2021 01:11 PM

NBA: Three first-time participants gun for Slam Dunk crown 1
Obi Toppin (1) of the New York Knicks, Anfernee Simons (1) of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Cassius Stanley (2) of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants/Indiana Pacers will compete in the 2021 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Jaime Valdez, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters and Juan Ocampo, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

A new Slam Dunk champion will be crowned this year as first-time participants Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers, Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers, and Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks compete for the title on Sunday, March 7, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

The 36th AT&T Slam Dunk will take place at halftime of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. The league's All-Star festivities will be held over just one night this season.

Simons is averaging 8.2 points and shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from three-point range in his third NBA season. The 6-foot-3 guard was selected by Portland with the 24th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Stanley, a 6-foot-5 rookie guard on a two-way contract, was selected by the Pacers with the 54th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He recorded a maximum vertical leap of 44 inches in the 2020 NBA Draft Combine, tied for the third-highest mark since 2000.

Toppin, a 6-foot-9 rookie forward, was selected by the Knicks with the eighth pick in the NBA Draft last year. As a redshirt sophomore at the University of Dayton last season, Toppin led the nation in dunks and was named the consensus National Player of the Year. 

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Five former Slam Dunk champions will serve as judges: Dominique Wilkins (1985 and 1990 champion), Dee Brown (1991), Jason Richardson (2002 and 2003), Josh Smith (2005), and Spud Webb (1986).

Wilkins, Smith and Webb won their Slam Dunk titles while representing the Atlanta Hawks. Richardson won the last Slam Dunk competition in Atlanta, in 2003.

The Slam Dunk contest will be a two-round competition. In the first round, the three competitors will perform two dunks each. 

The five judges will score each dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a maximum score of 50 and a minimum score of 30. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks (a maximum of 100 and a minimum of 60) will advance to the final round.

In the final round, the two competitors will perform one dunk each. The winner will be determined by "Judges' Choice" instead of individual score. The judges will choose the winner by raising a card that has the dunker's name on it. 

Portland's Derrick Jones Jr., then playing for Miami, won the 2020 Slam Dunk contest over Orlando forward Aaron Gordon.


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