Improving The NBA Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contests With The Ideal Fields For Each

Face it: the Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contests are not what they could be and are by no means what they used to be.

In fact, Yahoo! writer Adrian Wojarnowski bemused earlier on twitter, “If the NBA held this event in your driveway, would you open drapes to watch?”

The NBA All-Star Weekend is a far cry from what it used to be, when the best players in the league would come to show off their world class skill and athleticism.

Take the 3-point shootout in 1988. Larry Bird was in the finals, looking to win his third straight contest, which would keep him as the only winner in the history of the contest. He was shooting against Seattle’s Dale Ellis, one of the best shooters in the game in the late 1980s, and the whole competition came down to the final “money” ball. Bird released it, knew it was going in from the moment it left his fingers, and pointed to the sky as he walked away from the final rack like a bad ass.

Here’s the video proof.


There might be no Larry Bird around anymore, but how come the 3-Point and Slam Dunk Contests can’t attract the best talent in the game today?

Ideal Slam Dunk Contest Field

Let’s start with the Slam Dunk Contest.

First we have Jeremy Evans, whom I’ve never heard of. Then we have Chase Budinger, who I remember from college and I think plays for the Rockets? Another Arizona Wildcat, Derrick Williams, will be getting his shot as a rookie, and last but not least, up-and-comer Paul George will be in the contest as well.

That field is awful.

In an ideal world, where fans could vote who they would want to see make the contest, I would bet that none of those four candidates would crack the top 20. Here are the four that I’d like to see in the contest.

Russell Westbrook

Freakish athlete, and could represent the “little guy” in the contest.  So what if he’s 6-foot-3. I’m taller than him and I can’t dunk like that. Or dunk at all.



Dwight Howard

He’s been in the contest three times, winning once. Since he’s 7-feet tall, he could push the limits and bring a different type of dunk to the contest.

Blake Griffin

He’s 1-for-1 in his dunk contest career. He has a contest-caliber throwdown in just about every game. He needs to be in this contest.

LeBron James

He’s never been in the dunk contest, which is a shame.

Not only is he the best player in the league, he could prove he’s the most creative in the dunk contest. There’s no reason that in close to 10 seasons in the league, LeBron has not been in a dunk contest yet.

Who wouldn’t watch this? It would bring together four of the best athletes in the world, all of whom are All-Star caliber players, unlike the relative schmucks in the contest now.

Ideal 3-Point Shootout Field

The 3-point contest has a few more “names” this year but could still be doing so much better.

The 2012 contest has Ryan Anderson, a power forward from Orlando, and Kevin Love, a power forward from Minnesota, to go along with four guards in Mario Chalmers, Joe Johnson, James Jones, and Anthony Morrow. A decent field, but not nearly as good as it could be.

In my opinion, the best possible field for the 3-Point Shootout would be a combination of veteran, knock-down shooters, up and coming gunners, and Brian Scalabrine, the latter mostly for comedic effect.

Ray Allen

The best 3-point shooter of all time. He’s been in the contest six times but has only won it once. That came over 10 years ago, in 2000-01, and Jesus Shuttlesworth can knock them down now just as well as he did back then.

Mike Miller

He has one job, which is to hit 3-pointers. Seems like he should do well in this contest.

JJ Redick

Redick has one of the best pure strokes of all time, but has yet to get his chance on the 3-point contest. He is top 15 in the league in both 3-pointers made (59, through 2/23)  and in percentage (44.7%).

Stephen Curry

With such a quick release, Curry seems like a natural for the 3-point contest. He’s a bit banged up and has missed nine games (roughly one-third of the Warriors’ games) this season, and yet is still among the league leaders. Making 45% of his shots from distance speaks for himself.

Steve Novak

I remember hearing about Novak in high school and watching him in college at Marquette. He’s 6-10, but all he does is shoot threes. He’s benefited from Linsanity, stretching the court and allowing the pick-and-roll to happen. He is fifth in the league in percentage, and has taken four times as many threes as he has twos.

Matt Bonner

The Red Rocket himself, Bonner led the league in 3-point percentage last season, which I think should get you an automatic invite into the 3-point shootout.

dunk contest and 3-point shootout matt bonner

Who wouldn't want to see the silky smooth stroke of the Red Rocket in the 3-point contest?

Plus, his inevitable battle with Scalabrine in the finals would be captivating television.

Ryan Anderson

He’s hit 17 more 3-pointers than anyone else in the league, and is shooting at a 43% clip. He’s in the contest this season and is my favorite to win it.

Brian Scalabrine

Who doesn’t love this guy? He’d be the fan favorite.

He may not have hit a single 3-point shot this season, or last season for that matter, but he did hit 16 in 2009-10. And we all know he’s not getting a spot in the dunk contest.

dunk contest and 3-point shootout brian scalabrine

Brian Scalabrine. Light it up.

About Chris Callaway

Chris lives and works in La Crosse, Wisconsin, working primarily on-air while doing some writing as well. He is a part-owner of the Green Bay Packers, a Milwaukee Brewers die-hard, learning hockey while supporting the Minnesota Wild, and is also a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow him on twitter @ccallaway33.


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