Saturday night, the spotlight will be on Dennis Smith Jr. He’s participating in the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend. While he’ll be sharing the stage with three of his peers—Victor Oladipo, Larry Nance Jr., and Donovan Mitchell—all eyes in Dallas will be watching Smith.
Watching Smith play this season has been a treat for Mavs fans. He represents a building block for the future of the franchise as it transitions away from the era of Dirk Nowitzki. One of the most exciting aspects of Smith’s game is his ability to get above the rim almost effortlessly. He’s already served up some highlight-worthy dunks this season and more are on the way Saturday.
“I have a feeling we’re going to see some things we’ve never seen before from a guy that’s 6’3,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen a few of the things that he can do that I don’t believe he’s revealed to the public, and I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation.”
No one knows what Smith is going to do in the contest. Like Carlisle says, it’s something we haven’t seen before. Smith’s teammates have echoed that sentiment. Smith himself is also mum when it comes to his plans, but he knows what he’s going to do. He even spoke with former dunk champion Vince Carter about the contest when the Sacramento Kings were in town earlier this week. However, he let it be known that none of his current teammates gave him any advice on dunking.
“Guys from this team?” Smith joked. “I don’t know who would help me on this team, first and foremost. I don’t know who would help with that. But, you know, I’ll talk with my guys—got a little team, a little group chat. We talk about a couple of dunks here and there so we got something cooking.”
So, we’re in for a surprise. Don’t rule out an appearance by rapper J. Cole, though. They’re both from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Outside of that, what he does is anyone’s guess.
Since it was announced that Smith would be participating in All-Star weekend in both the Rising Stars Challenge and dunk contest, he’s been more than humble. However, don’t mistake that for being overwhelmed by the glitz and glamor of being in the Los Angeles spotlight. Smith is confident.
“I’ve been dunking for a long time,” Smith said. “I’m ready for it. What’s crazy is that I didn’t really think about [being in the dunk contest] too much. I really wanted to be in the All-Star Game, not so much the dunk contest but to be in it is a blessing. I’m looking forward to it.”