Magic phenom aims to dazzle New Orleans

Magic phenom aims to dazzle New Orleans

After narrowly losing to Zach LaVine 12 months ago, Aaron Gordon appears fully committed to winning the 2017 All-Star dunk contest. Will anyone else even put up a fight in tonight’s main event?

First-time competitors include DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson III and Derrick Jones Jr. According to online sports book Bovada.lv, though, Gordon enters the fray as a 1/2 favorite. Handicappers give the largely unknown Jones the next-best odds at 3-2.

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Frankly, one wonders if this evening’s showcase can possibly match the drama of last year’s spectacle in Toronto. LaVine and Gordon needed two tie-breaking overtime rounds to determine a champion, with the former eventually pulling out a 299-291 victory. Yet Gordon definitely succeeded in capturing the hearts and minds of everybody at the Air Canada Centre that evening. Inconsistency continues to prevent him from breaking out as an all-around stud in Orlando, but the 6-foot-9 forward remains one of the league’s most talented and exciting young performers.

If Gordon falters, then perhaps Jones will hold a coming-out party. Phoenix’s undrafted rookie has seen a grand total of 18 minutes across five appearances since Dec. 17. Still, coaches laud his athleticism and leaping ability. Whether the UNLV product’s capable of handling the pressure of All-Star Weekend remains to be seen.

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Jordan (+1000) clearly knows all about thriving on the big stage. The recent Olympic gold recipient would love to become the first center to advance to the final round since JaVale McGee. Nonetheless, his limited offensive repertoire doesn’t with the current influx of high flyers. Robinson’s prospects, at +850, are slightly better. The Indiana wing’s played 55 games this season, averaging 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds.

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