With the 2015-2016 NBA D-League season running at full steam, this weekend will serve as a nice break in the action. The All-Star Game should be solid entertainment as always, but the Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest are the events that should draw the most eyes.
Fans of the D-League have been spoiled over the past few years with Jarvis Threatt and Tony Mitchell throwing down some ridiculous dunks to take home the win in each of the respective dunk contests they participated in, and they were equally blown away when Jarell Eddie put on a clinic to take down Seth Curry and the rest of the field in the Three-Point Contest last year.
This year should be no different and considering the competitors in each event, there are certainly going to be some memorable moments. With the vast array of talent that will be on display it is tough to predict who will win each event, but there are some players that stand out as front-runners.
D.J. Stephens - Canton Charge
In a story from just under a week ago, we highlighted the top dunks from each of the participants in this year's contest. While each player had an impressive resume, none stood out in the way that Stephens did. While working out for the Brooklyn Nets prior to the 2013 NBA Draft, Stephens, who stands 6'5, set the NBA record for highest vertical leap with a jaw-dropping 46'. His off-the-charts athleticism comes out in a big way during his dunks and it opens up a world for him that not many can compete with.
If his previous dunk contests are any indication, he's going to pull something out that shouldn't be humanly possible.
Sleeper: Keifer Sykes - Austin Spurs
While Stephens is my overwhelming favorite, Sykes is a player that could shake things up with a Nate Robinson-type impact. He's only 5'11, but his 45' vertical lets him reach heights that a player his size simply should not be capable of reaching. He's showcased some tremendous slams in the past and I don't doubt that he could do it again.
Andre Ingram - Los Angeles D-Fenders
The D-League's all-time leader in three-point field goals made, Ingram should be considered the favorite for this event despite the headlines that Jimmer Fredette's inclusion will bring. He has a lighting quick release that will aid him greatly throughout the event and his efficiency has been through the roof all season as he's currently knocking down 52% of his three-point attempts.
His experience in the contest will aid him, as he took home the top spot in the 2010 event and participated in 2009. Despite the long layoff in between contests, his quick, consistent shooting form should be able to make him the man to beat this year.
Sleeper: Scott Suggs - Raptors 905
Much like Ingram, Suggs' quick release is perfectly suited for a competition like this one. He's been hovering right around the 45% mark all season long and if he can get hot, there's not many in the league that can shoot it from deep like he can.
Bonus: All-Star Game MVP
Vander Blue - Los Angeles D-Fenders
Blue picked the right time of the season to get on a roll. In the last ten games he's been scorching hot from the field, scoring 30.9 points per game .457/.388/.794 shooting splits. All-Star games are not typically known for their lock down defense, but as fellow Ridiculous Upside contributor Ethan Drogatis pointed out, scores for D-League All-Star games aren't nearly as high as their NBA counterparts. With a player like Blue on the floor, he'll have no problem generating quick offense and racking up a big total in the scoring column that will stand out when selecting an MVP.
Sleeper: Ricky Ledo - Reno Bighorns
A replacement along with Cady Lalanne for NBA call-ups Erick Green and Orlando Johnson, Ledo is going to have the opportunity to continue his hot streak through the All-Star Game. He's averaging over 25 points per game over his last five and he'll be looking to prove to the scouts on hand that he belongs back in the NBA. Blue is the better overall scorer, but Ledo's superior outside shooting may work better for him in the laid back All-Star Game atmosphere.