Each year, the NBA puts on a fan favorite highlight show of sorts, with All-Star Saturday Night. This year, we witnessed the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three Point Challenge and the ever so popular, Verizon Slam Dunk Competition.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
The Taco Bell NBA Skills Challenge took place on Saturday night and 8 players competed against each other in the competition. The NBA split the competitors up this year between the big men and the point guards.
This year’s big men were Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, Al Horford of the Boston Celtics, Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls and André Drummond of the Detroit Pistons. Drummond was replacing Kristaps Porzingis after sustaining a major knee injury that forced him out of the competition.
The point guards this year consisted of Lou Williams of the LA Clippers, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets and Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings. Hield was replacing Donovan Mitchell, who chose to compete in the NBA’s slam dunk competition.
In the 1st round, Joel Embiid eliminated Al Horford, Lauri Markkanen defeated André Drummond, Spencer Dinwiddie defeated Buddy Hield with a last-second three-point shot and Jamal Murray defeated Lou Williams.
In the 2nd round, we saw Lauri Markkanen defeat Joel Embiid after Embiid completely missed the passing portion of the competition. Markkanen moved on to the championship round, to face the winner of Spencer Dinwiddie vs. Jamal Murray. Dinwiddie beat Murray and moved on to take on Markkanen in the finals.
In the championship round, Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen took on Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie had a decent head start on Markkanen after the layup shot. He ran down the opposite side of the court, at which point he dreamed his 2nd attempt at a 3 pointer. Markkanen got tied up at the layup shot and was never able to get off the three-point shot. Dinwiddie is the 2nd Brooklyn Nets player in the history of the organization to win the NBA Skills Challenge.
JBL Three Point Competition
In the first round of the competition Klay Thompson scored 19, Tobias Harris scored 18, Wayne Ellington score 17, Devin Bookers scored 17, Bradley Beal scored 15, Eric Gordon scored 12, Kyle Lowry scored 11 and Paul George scored 9.
In the second round, Tobias Harris kicked it off and scored 17 points to set the pace. Devin Booker shot second and took the lead with 28 points. Booker drained 4 of 5 on the final rack of money balls and set an all time record in the Three Point Contest with the 28 points. Klay Thompson shot last and made it a close competition that came down to the final rack but came up 3 shy of tying Booker. With the 28 points, Booker won the 2018 JBL Three Point Contest.
Verizon Slam Dunk Competition
Donovan Mitchell started out by bringing a second backboard into play on his first dunk. Mitchell used the second backboard to bounce the ball off it and dunk the ball in the other basket! He was scored a 48 for the dunk. Victor Oladipo went second and missed all three attempts at his dunk. He attempted a reverse windmill dunk but was unable to successfully pull it off and was scored a 31. Dennis Smith Jr went third and pulled off a double tomahawk reverse dunk that the judges scored a 39.
Larry Nance Jr went third and changed his uniform prior to the start of his dunk to his father’s old uniform. Nance pulled off a basic cradle dunk that his dad won the tournament with back in 1984 and the judges scored his dunk a 44. The dunk looked very basic but when watched in slo-mo, it was much more impressive due to the fact that he brought the ball back behind him prior to dunking the ball.
All of the competitors move on to the second round, or consider it a second dunk. Oladipo led off due to the fact that he had the lowest score from round 1. He put on a Black Panther mask pulled off a double tomahawk dunk, similar to Dennis Smith Jr’s dunk in the first round. The judges scored his second dunk a 40, which gave him a 71 for the 2 dunks.
Dennis Smith Jr went second and pulled off a very difficult dunk by passing the ball between his legs and switching hands in the process. The dunk was truly remarkable and the judges scored his second dunk a perfect 50! That moved Smith Jr into the lead with a 89.
Larry Nance went 3rd in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. He started out behind the basket and completed a windmill dunk that was very powerful! The judges scored his dunk a 49, giving him the lead with a 93.
Donovan Mitchell went last in the set of competitors in the second round. Mitchell brought out three people to assist him with the dunk, one of which was his sister and the other two were Kevin Hart and Hart’s son. Mitchell had a 4th person to bounce the ball off the side of the backboard and Mitchell caught it mid air and dunked the ball over Hart, Hart’s son and Mitchell’s sister. Judges scored his dunk a perfect 50, which puts him in the lead with 98 points.
Larry Nance and Donovan Mitchell made it to the finals. Nance brought his dad out on the court and had his father throw the ball up in the, Nance caught the ball midway through the air and pulled off a windmill jam. Judges scored the dunk a 46. Mitchell went second and used the backboard again for his dunk. He threw the ball off the backboard, caught the ball very low and windmill cradled the dunk. Judges gave him a perfect 50 to take the lead.
In the second round of the finals, Nance went first and he also used the backboard. Nance bounced the ball off the backboard, caught the ball midway through the air and bounced it again off the backboard, prior to dunking the ball. Judges scored his dunk a perfect 50 to force Mitchell to come up with something impressive to win the contest.
Mitchell needed a 47 to win the contest. Mitchell started off by removing his jersey to show a Vince Carter jersey. Mitchell did a ‘360 windmill jam and the judges scored his dunk a 48 to win the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk Competition.