DeMar DeRozan just joined the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, replacing injured point guard Brandon Jennings. DeRozan’s inclusion in the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest just made it much more competitive, and with all due respect to Jennings, fans will enjoy the contest much more with DeRozan as a competitor. Jennings could always decide to enter the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest if he feels he has something to prove now.
According to NBA.com, Jennings was forced to withdraw from the competition as he tries to recover from a broken bone in his left foot. That left an opening for the NBA to place someone else in the contest, and made it possible to put someone from a past competition into the fray. The choice came down to DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, and the NBA definitely made the right decision here.
Last year, DeRozan was the runner-up in the Slam Dunk Contest to winner Nate Robinson, and he displayed some of the inventiveness that has made him an exciting player to watch ever since he came into the league. Now DeRozan will get the chance to surpass what he did last season and show the world if he came up with some new tricks for this year’s contest.
DeRozan is hands-down one of the best “dunkers” in the game right now, and he definitely needed to be one of the players invited to the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest. He stands a good chance at winning the competition, but it will be a very tough endeavor against someone who has the home court advantage.
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers is also in the contest, and he will get to compete in front of his hometown crowd at Staples Center. Griffin has been declared the early favorite to win the competition, but DeRozan could certainly provide a nice alternative.
The other two players who will be participating in the Slam Dunk Contest are Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder and JaVale McGee of the Washington Bullets. Jennings had been the other participant, which could have been very interesting, as he is a smaller point guard who hasn’t been known for his dunking ability. That is a similar story to how Spud Webb was perceived before he entered the event and won it back in the early days of the contest. By bowing out, Jennings has a better chance at healing from his injury.
The NBA made a great choice by inviting DeRozan to be the replacement participant, as it will raise the level of excitement at the competition. It’s too bad LeBron James still hasn’t lived up to his promise of competing in the Slam Dunk Contest, because having James go up against DeRozan and Griffin could have made this an even more exciting night.