There are new rules to the dunk contest this year in an attempt to spice it up with an East vs West approach. Here are the rules via USA Today:
For the first time, the dunk contest participants will be split into two teams: East (Terrence Ross, Paul George and John Wall) and West (Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard and Ben McLemore). Rather than all of the dunkers competing against each other as individuals, they will be working in teams, with team and individual awards being given out at the end of the night.
The first round will be a so-called “freestyle” competition, where the dunkers on each team will have 90 seconds to pack in as many dunks as they can. It’s essentially a layup line, not too different from players’ pregame shootaround routines. The judges select a winning team, and that team chooses whether to go first or second in the next round.
The battle round is another clever twist. The three dunkers on each team will be paired off for a series of head-to-head battles, with the judges selecting a winner from each. When a dunker loses a battle, he’s eliminated from the competition, and the remaining contestants continue to go head-to-head until one of the teams wins three battles. That team will be the Slam Dunk Champions for the night.
So it’s a team game now instead of an individual game, even though there are individual elements. Will this work? I hope so. The dunk contest wasn’t bad because of the old rules. It was bad because there was lack of creativity and the time allotment was too long.