Phoenix Suns guard Derrick Jones Jr. will compete in the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star weekend despite not recording a single dunk in an NBA game.
Jones has played 14 minutes in the NBA, but puts on dunk shows in practice and the NBA D-League, which was enough to get him a spot in the highlight of All-Star Saturday. He’s probably the most obscure choice to ever appear in the contest, or perhaps even All-Star Weekend.
That said, he’s not the first funky pick for the Dunk Contest. Here are a few other out-of-left-field selections since the event started in 1984.
Terence Stansbury (1985, 1986, 1987)
Stansbury played three years in the NBA and scored 1,200 points, but in three of the Dunk Contest’s earliest years, he was an obscure name next to his counterparts in 1985.
His opponents were Clyde Drexler, Orlando Woolridge, Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Larry Nance and Darrell Griffith. That’s four Hall of Famers, a multi-time All-Star, a guy who averaged 20+ points per game for four seasons and a former Rookie of the Year.
Despite the lack of name recognition, Stansbury made his presence known. He made the semifinal and finished third overall, introducing the famous “Statue of Liberty” dunk to the public.
He made the semifinal in both other seasons, but gave way to the more famous names above him.
Antonio Harvey (1995)
Harvey went undrafted in 1993, but ended up playing eight years in the NBA. Although his NBA career was reasonably long, it wasn’t glamorous. He played for six different franchises and averaged 3.0 points in his career.
He was a selection to the contest in 1995, which featured one of the more obscure overall fields in history. Harold Miner took the win over Harvey, Isaiah Rider, Tim Perry, Tony Dumas and Jamie Watson.
Harvey started off well but with his last chance had one of the more iconic failures of Dunk Contest lore.
James White and Jeremy Evans (2013)
In one of the least impressive Dunk Contests since the event started, Jeremy Evans and James White carried the banner of lack of star power.
White came to the Knicks after playing overseas for three seasons. In 2012-13 he averaged 2.2 points per game. Teammate Carmelo Anthony and the NBPA pushed for White to join the group for All-Star weekend. White won the D-League Dunk Contest in 2009 and had been dunking from behind the foul line since his college days at Cincinnati.
Evans returned back after winning the contest in 2012, despite not really doing much else in the NBA in either season. In 2013 he averaged around two points in five minutes per game with Utah. In the Dunk Contest, he finished second due to a lackluster field and his use of props.
Still, with the lack of big names and the excess of missed dunks, this is a year many fans would rather forget.
Darvin Ham (1997)
Rookies who can fly have been popular random picks for the Dunk Contest, including former Nugget Darvin Ham. Ham played 8.8 minutes per game and averaged 2.3 points.
He faced Chris Carr, Michael Finley, Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant, among others, in the ’97 contest. Bryant took the win with Ham finishing in the middle.
In 2012, Ham discussed the contest with the LA Times, saying he felt he should’ve won over Bryant and commenting on what he likes to see in a dunk.
Instead, Ham recommends each contestant follow what he calls “a three-part recipe,” mixing a good balance between leaping ability, creativity and power. But with how unenthusiastic Ham sounded about this year’s field, he remains skeptical that will happen.
“I don’t like these new cats when they get up so high and dunk the ball and they just throw it through and the rim doesn’t break away,” Ham said. “I like the old school breakway. To me, the power of it matters.”
While the Dunk Contest has historically had some unknowns appear and even contend for the crown, it seems like the Suns have the player that takes the cake. No participant has played fewer minutes in the NBA than Jones.
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