Dwight Howard leads Slam Dunk Contest field
Former Slam Dunk champion Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers returns to the competition for the first time in 11 years as he headlines the field of four players who will take flight in the 2020 AT&T Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the United Center in Chicago.
Howard is joined by two previous second-place finishers, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat, as well as first-time participant Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 35th AT&T Slam Dunk is part of State Farm® All-Star Saturday Night, which also features the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and the MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest. All-Star Saturday Night will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio in the United States at 8 p.m. ET. NBA All-Star 2020 will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.
Howard, the 2008 Slam Dunk champion, will compete in the event for the first time since 2009, when he made the last of three consecutive appearances. Gordon’s dazzling runner-up performance in 2016 included three straight perfect scores of 50. Jones Jr., who turns 23 on the same day as AT&T Slam Dunk, finished second in 2017. Connaughton is seeking to become the first Milwaukee player to win Slam Dunk.
AT&T Slam Dunk takes in place Chicago for the first time since 1988, when the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan memorably outdueled the Atlanta Hawks’ Dominique Wilkins to win his second consecutive Slam Dunk title.
Here is a closer look at the 2020 AT&T Slam Dunk participants:
• Pat Connaughton, Bucks (1st appearance): The 6-5 guard is in his second season with Milwaukee after spending his first three NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. Connaughton (CONN-uh-ton) recorded a max vertical leap of 44 inches at the 2015 NBA Draft Combine, tied for the third-highest mark in event history. He was selected as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.
• Aaron Gordon, Magic (3rd appearance): Gordon returns to AT&T Slam Dunk for the first time since 2017. The 6-9 forward ranks third on the Magic in scoring (13.6 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.2 rpg) in his sixth NBA season.
• Dwight Howard, Lakers (4th appearance): Howard is an eight-time NBA All-Star selection, eight-time All-NBA Team selection and three-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-10 center ranks 14th in NBA history in both rebounds (13,553) and blocked shots (2,120).
• Derrick Jones Jr., Heat (2nd appearance): As a rookie in the 2016-17 season, Jones became the first player to compete in AT&T Slam Dunk and play in the NBA G League in the same season. Since then, the undrafted Jones has earned a full-time role in the NBA. Nicknamed “Airplane Mode” for his leaping ability, the 6-7 Jones won a national dunk contest for high school players in 2015.
2020 AT&T Slam Dunk Rules
In the two-round event, participants can perform any dunk they choose. The players have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first round and the final round. Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a high score of 50 and a low score of 30. The judges will be announced at a later date.
All four competitors get two dunks in the first round. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round. Both players get two dunks in the final round. The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the 2020 AT&T Slam Dunk champion. Click here for a complete explanation of the rules.