Zach LaVine to Defend His Title in 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine will return to defend his title and represent the Wolves in the 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest the league announced today. LaVine will dunk against Will Barton (Denver Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) and Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic). LaVine is seeking to join Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson (2002-03) and Nate Robinson (2009-10) as the only solo back-to-back winners of Verizon Slam Dunk.

“To have the chance to defend my title at the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend is very exciting,” LaVine said. “I can’t wait to go out there, put on a great show for the fans and have some fun.”

In his sophomore year, LaVine, the No. 13 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, is averaging 12.8 points, 3.2 assists and 23.8 minutes in 51 games. He scored a season-high 35 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 27 and dished out a season-high nine assists Jan. 12 vs. Oklahoma City. Including a 17-point performance in Minnesota’s 108-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers last night, the 6-6 guard is averaging 20.0 points, on 59.5% shooting, 2.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists over his last six games.

With a vertical jump recorded as high as 46 inches, LaVine has proven he has the athleticism to provide many highlight reel dunks. Whether it’s roaring through the lane and soaring to the hoop or leaping to the rafters to catch an alley-oop, LaVine is an impressive and creative dunker. Fans can check out LaVine’s dunking ability from last year’s Verizon Slam Dunk Contest for themselves here:

LaVine is the sixth Timberwolves player to compete in the All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest and the second Wolves player to appear in the contest in consecutive years. As a rookie, Isaiah Rider won the 1994 Slam Dunk Contest at Target Center with a between-the-legs jam, which he titled the “East Bay Funk Dunk.” Other Timberwolves to participate in past Slam Dunk Contests include Derrick Williams (2012), Gerald Green (2008), Chris Carr (1997) and Doug West (1992). Rider also participated in the 1995 Slam Dunk Contest.

Verizon Slam Dunk is part of State Farm® All-Star Saturday Night, which will be exclusively televised by TNT in the U.S. at 7:30 p.m. ET. This marks Turner Sports’ 31st year of NBA All-Star coverage. Sportsnet and TSN will simulcast Verizon Slam Dunk in Canada.

Verizon Slam Dunk is a two-round event in which the four participants can perform any dunk they choose without time limits. 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. All four competitors get two dunks in the first round. The two dunkers with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round. The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the champion.

[Source: Minnesota Timberwolves press release]
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