Two weeks ago, we more than excused 2011 Slam Dunk Contest winner Blake Griffin from appearing in this year's event. There isn't a whole lot more he can do, dunk-wise, he's starting in the actual All-Star game the day after the Dunk comp, and he's also expected to be the finishing force behind a Clippers team with legitimate Finals aspirations. Why not boast a field full of less-heralded youngsters, instead?
Well, we got our field. And our wish. And we were probably wrong. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Dunk Contest lineup will include Indiana's Paul George (yes), Minnesota's Derrick Williams (gee, I wonder if Ricky Rubio will get to aid him in any way?), Houston's Chase Budinger (a great athlete and huge leaper, but …) and New York's Iman Shumpert.
Iman Shumpert. That old high-flyer.
The guy who, as Posting and Toasting pointed out, shoots a better percentage on his free throws than he does his dunks. Clearly, the only reason Shumpert is involved in this competition is to provide Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin with a chance to toss him a lob or two (or, considering that he's a Knick in the dunk contest, 18) off the glass for Shumpert to eventually dunk. And why Denver's Kenneth Faried isn't included clearly indicates that the NBA really, really wanted a lottery pick, a guy who looks different from everyone else, and a reason to bring Jeremy Lin along. If transparency is your plan, NBA, then you are working at peak efficiency.
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