Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
All-Star Weekend is just around the corner, and Magic fans could probably use a little bit of a break from the all too frequent lows of the season.
Unfortunately for Orlando, the All-Star festivities aren’t exactly brimming with Magic players so far. With guard Arron Afflalo snubbed from the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, rookie Victor Oladipo currently stands as the only member of the franchise with an invitation to New Orleans. Oladipo will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge, a showcase for rookies and sophomores that should be a lot more fun than it traditionally is.
Since he’s there, though, here’s a suggestion for the powers that be: Put Victor Oladipo in the Slam Dunk Contest.
There should essentially be two criteria for inclusion in the dunk contest. The first is the ability to rattle rims from the top of the backboard to the bottom of the stanchion.
Oladipo’s got that covered and then some. In the first four months of his NBA career, he’s managed to throw down some of the best dunks of the year. Among his leaping lightning strikes, his steal and 360 in the open court against Brooklyn is the most well-known in a Magic uniform:
And Oladipo’s repertoire goes deep. He flashed his dunk contest credentials in transition:
And in traffic, where no mortal defender can keep Oladipo from inflicting pain on the iron:
The evidence is clear: in terms of content and ability, Oladipo is more than qualified for the Slam Dunk Contest.
But there are a lot of players with the chops to bring a crowd to their feet with their dunking prowess. Being able to participate in the competition isn’t enough. In order to shine at All-Star Weekend, a player must want to take part in the events.
And Oladipo has made it clear, time and time again and to anyone who asks, that he wants to be in the Slam Dunk Contest. He said it back in the first week of November, when his body was fresh and he’d not yet been through the grind of the regular season. And he reiterated it recently when asked by reporters.
It’s a pertinent facet of the discussion, especially since All-Stars John Wall and Damian Lillard have reportedly been invited to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. Wall seems likely to skip the event due to a nagging injury or two. We don’t yet know whether or not Lillard will accept.
But a player who has to mull the invitation over probably won’t put on the same type of show as a player with his eye on the event from the beginning. Lillard would be a fine contestant. Oladipo, given his open desire, would simply be better. If you don’t believe me, ask defending Slam Dunk Contest champion Terrence Ross. When asked who he’d like to see as challengers to his crown, Ross didn’t hesitate in selecting Oladipo.
Of course, the format will likely factor into whether or not Oladipo makes the cut. Last year, the Slam Dunk Contest was open to six contestants, with three coming from each conference. Assuming the same holds true this year, and Ross is invited back, that leaves Oladipo competing for one of two spots with his fellow Eastern Conference comrades.
He should be a lock, though he doesn’t seem to be. No one else has Oladipo’s combination of ferocious dunks and inclination to unleash them with the spotlight shining its brightest. If the Slam Dunk Contest wants to be the spectacle it deserves to be, it needs Victor Oladipo.