It's impossible to think about NBA All-Star Weekend without remembering iconic moments like the diminutive Spud Webb pulling off a 360 dunk, Michael Jordan taking off from the free-throw line, or Vince Carter putting his forearm through the rim.
Although the NBA slam dunk contest hasn’t featured many big names in recent years, it should still be an entertaining event to bet on this year. Mac McClung, who signed a two-way contract with the 76ers just three days ago, is the NBA betting favorite to win the 2023 contest.
Should you put your money on a guy with just two NBA games under his belt or consider another competitor with a bigger payout?
I let you know with my NBA Slam Dunk Contest picks and predictions for All-Star Saturday on February 18.
NBA Slam Dunk Contest odds
|Mac McClung||Philadelphia 76ers||-110|
|Jericho Sims||New York Knicks||+310|
|Kenyon Martin Jr.||Houston Rockets||+310|
|Trey Murphy III||New Orleans Pelicans||+365|
Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction on February 17, 2023.
NBA Slam Dunk Contest rules
Familiarize yourself with the latest rules for the 2023 Slam Dunk Contest before wagering on the event.
- Four players will compete in a two-round competition.
- Five judges will score each dunk based on a score ranging from 40-50.
- The order of the competition is determined by a random draw.
NBA Slam Dunk Contest favorites
Mac McClung (-110)
Money has poured in on Mac McClung, who went from about +150 to the odds-on favorite in a matter of days. The 6-foot-2 McClung has played just 25 minutes in the NBA and was recently signed by the 76ers but he's a high riser with plenty of experience in dunk competitions. He went viral as a 19-year-old in 2018 when he beat current Rocket Kevin Porter Jr. in a dunk contest at the Iverson Classic.
McClung has an incredible verified vertical of 43.5 inches and there's always something more eye-catching about watching a smaller guy jam. We've also seen him excel in dunk contests before, so we know he can be creative.
McClung has already mentioned that he has two never-before-seen dunks queued up for Saturday.
Mac McClung said he has at least 2 dunks that have never been done in the NBA dunk contest!— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 16, 2023
Throwback to him winning the 2018 Ballislife All-American dunk contest pic.twitter.com/oiMhEo8cXL
Jericho Sims (+310)
It's interesting that Jericho Sims is second on the odds board when you consider that he was a late replacement for Shaedon Sharpe, who announced he was dropping out last week. Sims, a 6-foot-10 center for the Knicks, has rare athleticism compared to other big men.
Sims' max vertical of 44.5 inches at the 2021 NBA combine was tied for the third-highest in history. That bounce combined with his incredible height means that he is literally able to get his head above the rim.
Jericho Sims hit his head on the rim with this dunk ????— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 14, 2021
Kenyon Martin Jr. (+310)
Kenyon Martin Jr. is probably the most well-known name on this list, and that's because he shares that name with his dad and former first-pick overall Kenyon Martin. The son has emerged as a role player for the Rockets, averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Martin can electrify the crowd with his explosive dunks and his ability to dunk in-game is probably the most impressive of the competing players.
Kenyon Martin Jr. is officially the #Rockets SF for the rest of the season.— Bradeaux (@BradeauxNBA) February 9, 2023
He’s 7th in the NBA in dunks and 1st amongst every player at his position. pic.twitter.com/5aMAQdeVG3
Trey Murphy III (+365)
Trey Murphy is another young player carving out a role in the NBA. While his sharp shooting (knocking down 40% of his threes and 91% of his free throws this season) has been on display for the Pelicans this season, his athleticism and hops can't be overlooked.
TREY MURPHY POSTER DUNK ????pic.twitter.com/abRwxFPGZt— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 19, 2022
NBA Slam Dunk Contest pick
Mac McClung (-110)
With his creativity, experience in dunks, and his insane vertical (enhanced by his smaller height), it's easy to see why McClung is the favorite here.
As entertaining as Murphy and Martin's in-game dunks have been, neither have the jumping ability of McClung or Sims. In addition, Murphy's smoother style doesn't lend itself to a competition like this, which tends to glorify rim-rattling power.
With McClung still available at close to a pick'em price, I'll back him. However, if he gets past -130, it would be wise to consider Sims, who has insane elevation for a big man and was actually the betting favorite when odds first hit the board.
Past Slam Dunk Contest winners
|2020||Derrick Jones Jr.|
|2017||Glenn Robinson III|
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Players who have won multiple Slam Dunk Contests
|Nate Robinson||2006, 2009, 2010|
|Dominique Wilkins||1985, 1990|
|Michael Jordan||1987, 1988|
|Harold Miner||1993, 1995|
|Jason Richardson||2002, 2003|
|Zach LaVine||2015, 2016|
Slam Dunk Contest trends
- Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson, Nate Robinson, and Zach LaVine are the only players in history to win the Slam Dunk Contest in back-to-back years.
- At age 18, Kobe Bryant is the youngest player to win the Slam Dunk Contest (1997).
- 27 players in history have put up one perfect score of 50 on a single dunk.