Posted February 17, 2013

2013 NBA Slam Dunk Contest: Grading every dunk

2013 All-Star Weekend, Ben Golliver, Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green, James White, Jeremy Evans, Kenneth Faried, Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross won the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest

Terrence Ross (top) defeated Jeremy Evans to win the 2013 dunk contest. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

HOUSTON — Raptors rookie guard Terrence Ross won the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest at the Toyota Center on Saturday, defeating Jazz forward Jeremy Evans in a head-to-head final round. Ross unseated the defending champion with 58 percent of the fan vote.

“I feel blessed, but it’s still overwhelming,” Ross said after receiving his trophy. “I’m just trying to soak it all in.”

James White, Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried and Eric Bledsoe were eliminated in the first round of the competition.

Here’s a dunk-by-dunk breakdown of the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest.

Opening Round: First Dunks

Gerald Green

Score given by judges: 50

Score he should have received: 45

***

Pacers guard Gerald Green received a pass from teammate Lance Stephenson off the side of the glass, throwing down a clean two-hand reverse. We’ve seen a similar dunk from DeMar DeRozan in the past. While not totally original, it was a clean, promising start to the festivities.

James White

Score given by judges: 45

Score he should have received: 42

James “Flight” White played on his nickname, lining up eight “flight attendants” near midcourt and running through them as he approached for his signature free throw line dunk. Unfortunately, he had to repeat the effort after a miss and wound up taking off from well inside the paint to finish a two-hand dunk, lessening the effect. After talking a huge game during media interviews, White came off as a disappointment.

Terrence Ross

Score given by judges: 50

Score he should have received: 46

The springy Raptors guard started off with a complicated, rotating dunk in which he slipped the ball behind his back from his left hand to his right hand. He finished the spiral maneuver with a one-hand finish. The judges didn’t deduct for five missed attempts but they should have.

Kenneth Faried

Score given by judges: 39

Score he should have received: 35

Come on, Manimal, you’ve got to do better than this. The Nuggets forward opened with an off-the-backboard, 360 degree, one-handed dunk that just didn’t look as complicated or as cool as it sounds. His size worked against him and he didn’t have the hang time or high-leaping effects.

Eric Bledsoe

Score given by judges: 39

Score he should have received: 35

Bledsoe tried to throw down a 360 dunk through his legs with one hand but was unable to complete it after a number of tries. Rather than missing over and over, he reverted to a simpler 360 dunk that included a backboard touch. It looked like a back-up plan and that’s not a good sign.

Jeremy Evans

Score given by judges: 47

Score he should have received: 47

***

The defending champion positioned Jazz center Mark Eaton on a block in the paint, jumping over him and taking the ball on his way up, finishing the leaping attempt with a two-hand reverse finish. This was one of the best dunks of the night, even if it took multiple tries to get right. He stuck with it and delivered on a high degree of difficulty.

Opening Round: Second Dunks

James White

Score given by judges: 32

Score he should have received: 0

Oh boy. Cue up the airplane phrases. Technical difficulties. Pilot’s strike. Mechanical failures. “Flight” White’s hyped NBA dunk contest debut ended in total disaster, as he missed a hand-switching attempt from just inside the free throw line and then missed his back-up plan, a windmill from near the free throw line. The organizers stopped the clock multiple times for him to give him extra shots, to no avail. Crash landing. One-way, first-class ticket back to anonymity. Oof. White was eliminated.

Gerald Green

Score given by judges: 32

Score he should have received: 20

A really creative idea with awful execution. Green, the 2007 champ, decided to cut off the net to facilitate a double dunk. The goal was to dunk it with his right hand, catch the ball under the hoop while in mid-air, and dunk it again with his left hand. Time after time, he just couldn’t get it to work. This had legendary potential if he had nailed it right off the top; instead, all Green accomplished was delaying the proceedings as they added a new net. He was eliminated.

Terence Ross

Score given by judges: 49

Score he should have received: 40

Ross was able to play it somewhat conservatively because he didn’t need to go overboard after the failures of White and Green. He was virtually assured of advancing out of the East bracket as long as he avoided total disaster. His effort was solid: he gave himself a bouncing self alley-oop that he finished with a 360 degree hammer. Simple, effective and smart. He advanced without debate.

Kenneth Faried

Score given by judges: 50

Score he should have received: 45

***

Faried’s second effort was better than his first. Tossing the ball to himself off the glass, he caught it, put it between his legs and finished with a little leg kick flourish. This one had a little “Young Amar’e Stoudemire” feel to it. The judges were a little too generous but you couldn’t blame them given the failures in the East. His second score wasn’t enough to make up for his first, and he was eliminated.

Eric Bledsoe

Score given by judges: 50

Score he should have received: 47

This was one of the most impressive dunks that had the “whoa” factor. Bledsoe set himself up with a bounce before throwing down a two-handed windmill from the left side. Mini-LeBron had a Mini-Dominique Wilkins thing going here. Powerful and unique, but not quite enough for him to advance.

Jeremy Evans

Score given by judges: 43

Score he should have received: 42

Jeremy Evans squeaked out of the West bracket by dunking two basketballs with two hands after a 360 degree spin. His absurd length negated some of the impact of this dunk even though it was a new twist on the two-ball, two-hand concept. He was the most consistent West dunker in the first round and deserved to advance.

Final Round: Ross vs. Evans

In the final round, the fan vote opened up and the dunks weren’t scored by judges.

Jeremy Evans — Third Dunk

Score he should have received: 50

***

For his first dunk of the final round, Evans went the props route, bringing out an eisel with a black tarp over it. Evans threw down a left-handed windmill while leaping over the eisel, a fairly impressive feat but not mind-blowing given how often he’s jumped over objects this year and last. The great reveal came when he pulled back the tarp, revealing a painting of himself throwing down a left-handed windmill dunk. Beautifully creative and meta.

Terrence Ross — Third Dunk

Score he should have received: 46

Ross’s first dunk in the final round was similar to Green’s first offering of the night. High school teammate Terrence Jones threw a pass off the side of the backboard which Ross turned into a hard, spinning windmill. There was a Vince Carter-esque vibe to his smooth, bouncy approach and ferocious finish. There was also a Carter jersey on his back, as Ross made a point to pay homage to one of the best participants in dunk contest history.

Jeremy Evans — Fourth Dunk

Score he should have received: 45

Evans’ final dunk saw him leap over Dahntay Jones before going into a full spread eagle as he looked down into the rim. The slam ended with a rim-shaking conclusion. Ultimately, Evans went to the leaping over things gimmick one too many times in this competition. More variety, Jeremy!

Terrence Ross — Fourth Dunk

Score he should have received: 50

***

Ross saved his best for last — always a smart idea. His finale involved leaping over a ball boy, passing the ball between his legs and then finishing with a slam. It was the combination of elements that made this work so well. The young child’s presence raised some serious concern given how many things Ross had to focus on from start to finish. Weren’t you a little worried he might kick the boy in the head? He didn’t, of course, getting the dunk right, much to the crowd’s delight.

Note: Ross said afterward that the ball boy was concerned he would be hit and that Ross had to “calm his nerves” during practice attempts earlier in the week.

Final Thoughts

Evans admitted during a media session on Friday that the hardest part of his preparations this year was coming up with new material. The painting was a genius idea that he sold very well. Otherwise, he needed a second trick.

Ross emerged as a solid favorite inside the Toyota Center as the final round unfolded. He’s almost a prototype for a dunk contest dunker, boasting perfect size, good ups, nice technical skills, sufficient creativity and effortless in-air movements. He wasn’t as jaw-dropping as a Vince Carter or a Jason Richardson, but he was a worthy winner in a close final round.

The 2013 Slam Dunk Contest isn’t likely to have much staying power. The most memorable single moment was Evans’ painting, a solid ploy but nothing revolutionary. There’s a decent chance we remember 2013 as the year Green and White both fell way short of exceedingly high expectations.

The upshot: Ross, 22, is well-positioned for a long career of dunk contest participation, if he so chooses.

“I’m not sure,” he said, when asked if he would be back in 2014 in New Orleans. “This took a lot out of me. So I don’t know.”

See all of Ross’ dunks below.

(Videos via Kanye CheddaNBAshowtimeHDNBA and ESPYS2012)

1 comments
smyers317
smyers317

If you don't do the dunk on your first try you shouldn't get anything higher than 45. Also, if this is going to be a legit event can we PLEASE get legit judges???? I'm sick of having judges completely overreact and throw up 10's for pedestrian dunks.