New York Knicks’ unassuming backup center Jericho Sims rarely wears his emotions.
But in the Slam Dunk contest, flair and style can tilt the odds.
Sims was a late replacement for Portland rookie Shaedon Sharpe who begged off, citing the need to focus on the Trail Blazers’ stretch run. But Sims will enter this year’s Slam Dunk contest as the betting favorite to win.
The 6-foot-10 Sims is a +150 favorite per DraftKings and BetOnline Sportsbooks. FanDuel Sportsbook have Sims and Houston’s KJ Martin as +250 betting favorites.
Sims’s shot diet is 63.5 percent dunks, which tops the league. The average distance of his shots is 2.4 feet from the rim, tied with Utah Jazz rookie center Walker Kessler among the top three shortest distance shooters in the league.
Sims has made 60 dunks in 47 games this season. His 44.5-inch max vertical jump at the NBA Draft Combine and the Knicks’ rich history in the Slam Dunk contest may have tilted the odds in Sims’ favor.
His teammate, Obi Toppin, won the event last year, marking the fifth crown in Knicks history after Nate Robinson (three times), and Kenny Walker in 1989.
Sims’ biggest threats to the crown will be Martin, Jr., whose father, Kenyon, Sr., was a ferocious dunker in his heydays, and Mac McLung, who recently signed a two-way deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 6-foot-2 McLung was once a viral sensation for his jaw-dropping dunks during high school.
But NBA legend Spud Webb picked Martin, Jr. to win the contest he won in 1986.
“So I’m going to go with Junior. Hopefully, these young guys have crazy stuff that we’d only dream about dunking,” Webb said. “He seems like one of those guys that dunk in the game a lot, so he might be very creative in the dunk contest.”
Martin, Jr. has more than doubled Sims’ total dunks entering the contest with 122 over 58 games.
Completing the field is Trey Murhpy III of the New Orleans Pelicans, who is more known for his 3-and-D skills than his dunks.
Lisa Leslie, Harold Miner, Dominique Wilkins, Jamal Crawford, and Karl Malone will be this year’s panel of judges.
On Saturday night, Sims might have to wear his emotions after each dunk to completely impress the judges and leave nothing to chance.
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