NBA Dunk Contest Odds, Picks, Predictions: Jalen Green, Obi Toppin Lead Top Bets for Saturday’s Slam Dunk Contest
Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Green #0 of the Houston Rockets.
- The NBA All-Star Saturday Night continues on, as the event changes gears for the main event: the dunk contest.
- Jalen Green is the favorite high flyer to beat out Obi Toppin, Cole Anthony and Juan Toscano-Anderson.
- See which player our NBA experts think will impress the judges the most, below.
NBA Dunk Contest Odds
The 2022 NBA dunk contest — aka the closeout event on Saturday night that will either have everyone buzzing or groaning for the following 12 hours until the All-Star Game — will feature three newcomers, including sensational rookie Jalen Green from the Houston Rockets.
Obi Toppin, who competed last season, returns to try and claim the hardware in his second run at the dunk title.
Here’s how our experts are betting Saturday’s featured event.
NBA Odds & Picks
First, I love that Juan Toscano-Anderson is here. JTA is the first player of Mexican descent to compete in the dunk contest, and it’s been a wild journey getting here.
Undrafted out of Marquette, Toscano-Anderson headed to Mexico and Venezuela, where he played for four years before getting a G League spot with the Santa Cruz Warriors. When he finally signed with his hometown Warriors — JTA grew up in Oakland and wears No. 95 as a tribute to Oakland’s 95th Avenue — the league shutdown for the pandemic a month later.
Now, finally, he has a full-time contract and is a regular contributor and outstanding defender on the league’s second best team.
It’s pretty, pretty cool that Juan Toscano-Anderson is competing in the dunk contest after all that — we Andersons gotta stick together, after all — but there’s only one name I’m backing in this year’s dunk contest, and it’s Jalen Green.
Green is an electric athlete who will look cooler than everyone else, and that matters in a flash contest like this one — he can jump out of the building and is sure to go between the legs and behind the back with all that air time.
I would even take Green vs. the field.
This is the second year in which Obi Toppin is participating in the dunk contest, and since the Knicks haven’t been able to do anything right this season, this will be their one bright spot of the year.
In the final round of the 2021 contest, eventual-champion Anfernee Simons’ final attempt was an effort to kiss the rim while he was dunking, but he didn’t even kiss the rim — and still somehow won the contest. Meanwhile Toppin, the other finalist, went between the legs but wasn’t good enough.
Let’s also not forget that even in Toppin’s days at Dayton, where he had some incredible in-game dunks. This season on Christmas Day, Toppin went between the legs and threw it down against the Hawks on a breakaway dunk.
You’re not getting much value on the unpredictable (and many times, unexciting) dunk contest. But, let’s have some fun and find a sure-fire way to make it appealing: Betting.
As a Rockets fan (sigh), the Jalen Green experience has been a roller coaster in his rookie season.
He has struggled with injuries and his jump shot over the course of the season, but the eternal optimist in me is excited about his recent level of play. In his previous eight games, Green is averaging 16.5 points per game on 46.4% field goal percentage, 41.2% 3-point percentage and 60.4% True Shooting percentage.
He has gained more confidence and improved on both ends of the floor. I anticipate this confidence carries into All-Star weekend. Even if his jump shot has been off, his dunks and hops have been electric.
His athleticism makes these highlight dunks look so smooth and effortless. With all that hang time, there is a better opportunity for him to do something unique and exciting that will give him an edge.
I went back and ran the numbers: There have been 29 players who failed to win the dunk contest and came back to try again. Only four of those players have wound up winning: Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Dwight Howard and Derrick Jones Jr.
While my own personal bias would lead me to take Obi Toppin in this situation, it’s hard for me to see him winning if he failed to impress the judges enough last year with what was a tantalizing performance.
I’ll instead go to Cole Anthony, who is only 6-foot-3 and the shortest contestant this year, but I believe the height disadvantage will actually work in his favor with judges coming away abnormally stunned over routine dunks.
Anthony has also pulled off some great in-game dunks and could even get his father, Greg Anthony, involved here.