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NBA All-Star 2021: Profiling the Dunk Contest participants

Obi Toppin will participate in the 2021 NBA Slam Dunk Contest [Image: Getty Images]
Obi Toppin will participate in the 2021 NBA Slam Dunk Contest [Image: Getty Images]
ANALYST
Modified 04 Mar 2021
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The NBA All-Star 2021 Dunk Contest is set to entertain fans this weekend with some thrilling moments at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The 36th AT&T Slam Dunk Contest will be held on March 7 (Sunday) and will have three participants, instead of the usual four.

The winner of last year's contest, Derrick Jones Jr., will not be defending his crown, ensuring that there will be a new champion this year.

The contestants for the Dunk Contest are Anfernee Simons (Portland Trail Blazers), Obi Toppin (New York Knicks), and Cassius Stanley (Indiana Pacers).

Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket against Rui Hachimura #8 of the Washington Wizards
Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket against Rui Hachimura #8 of the Washington Wizards

NBA All-Star 2021: What do we know about the Dunk Contest participants?

The participants at the NBA All-Star 2021 Slam Dunk Contest comprise some of the youngest players to ever compete in the event. The oldest is Obi Toppin, who is a 23-year-old, while Anfernee Simons and Cassius Stanley are both 21.

Let’s have a closer look at each of the participants:

#1 Obi Toppin (New York Knicks)

Height and weight: 6’9 / 220 lbs

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2020-21 Key Stats: 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds

One of the two rookies to join the contest, Obi Toppin was chosen by the New York Knicks with the No. 8 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Toppin did not play until the 12th game of the season because of a strained right calf, but he has since played in every Knicks game. He has career-highs of 12 points and five rebounds, which were both achieved on January 17 against the Boston Celtics in his third professional game.

A native New Yorker, Toppin is a fan favorite for the Dunk Contest, having displayed his athleticism on the court previously.

He played two seasons at Dayton, averaging 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game in 31 appearances with the Flyers. In his second season, Toppin earned Naismith College Player of the Year honors.

#2 Anfernee Simons (Portland Trail Blazers)

Height and weight: 6’3 / 185 lbs

2020-21 Key Stats: 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 40.7 percent 3-point FG

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Anfernee Simons was chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 24th overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. In his third year in the league, Simons has become a regular rotation player for the Blazers and has shown the jumping ability needed to win the Dunk Contest.

According to NBA.com, Simons is the Trail Blazers’ sixth Slam Dunk Contest participant in history, joining his current teammate Damian Lillard (2014), Rudy Fernandez (2009), James Robinson (1994), Jerome Kersey (1986-89), and Clyde Drexler (1984-85, 1987-89).

If Simons wins the Slam Dunk Contest on Sunday, he will be the first Trail Blazer to accomplish the feat. His teammate, Derrick Jones Jr., was last year’s Dunk Contest champion but he was playing for the Miami Heat at that time.

#3 Cassius Stanley (Indiana Pacers)

Height and weight: 6’5 / 190 lbs

2020-21 Key Stats: 8 games, 1.1 points

Perhaps the least-known participant of the Dunk Contest, Cassius Stanley was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 54th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. He has appeared in eight games for the Pacers this season but he is currently playing in the G League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Stanley is set to become the first player on a two-way contract to participate in the Dunk Contest.

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Stanley recorded a 44-inch max vertical leap (tied for the third-highest mark since 2000) at the 2020 NBA Draft Combine, making him a dark horse pick to win the Dunk Contest.

Also Read: When is the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest 2021?

Published 04 Mar 2021, 16:40 IST
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