Timberwolves’ Zach LaVine to defend title in 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk

NEW YORK – The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Zach LaVine will defend his title in 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13.  LaVine, who won the NBA’s signature above-the-rim showcase in spectacular fashion as a 19-year-old rookie last year, is joined by three first-time competitors: Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets, 2016 NBA All-Star Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic.

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.  The event also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio.

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.  LaVine, who was also selected to the U.S. Team for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 12, is averaging 12.8 points and 3.2 assists in his second NBA season.

Barton is enjoying a breakout year, averaging career highs in points (15.5 ppg), rebounds (6.0 rpg) and assists (2.3 apg) in his fourth season.  His scoring average is second among players who have come off the bench in more than half their games, behind the New Orleans Pelicans’ Ryan Anderson (17.2 ppg).  No Nuggets player has ever won Verizon Slam Dunk.

Drummond, who leads the NBA in rebounding (15.0 rpg) and double-doubles (41), earned an All-Star nod for the first time in his four-year career.  He is the first Detroit player to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team since Allen Iverson in the 2008-09 season.  The last Piston to compete in Verizon Slam Dunk was Jerry Stackhouse in 2000.

Gordon, the fourth pick of NBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm, is averaging 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in his second season and recently became a starter with the Magic.  He is looking to join Dwight Howard (2008) as Orlando players to win Verizon Slam Dunk.

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.

NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto – the first NBA All-Star held outside the U.S. – will bring together some of the most talented and passionate players in the league’s history for a global celebration of the game.  The 65th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 14 at Air Canada Centre, will reach fans in more than 200 countries in more than 40 languages.  TNT will televise the All-Star Game in the U.S. for the 14th consecutive year.  Air Canada Centre will also host the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 12 and State Farm All-Star Saturday Night.  Other events at NBA All-Star 2016 include the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew and the NBA Development League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire.

Below is the lineup for 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk and a list of previous winners:

                    2016 VERIZON SLAM DUNK PARTICIPANTS

         Participant, Team                                 Pos.              Ht.    Wt.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets                           G               6-6      175
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons                C              6-11    279
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic                        F               6-9      220
Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves        G               6-5      189


1984—Larry Nance, Phoenix                    2001—Desmond Mason, Seattle
1985—Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta          2002—Jason Richardson, Golden State
1986—Spud Webb, Atlanta                       2003—Jason Richardson, Golden State
1987—Michael Jordan, Chicago               2004—Fred Jones, Indiana
1988—Michael Jordan, Chicago               2005—Josh Smith, Atlanta
1989—Kenny Walker, New York              2006—Nate Robinson, New York
1990—Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta          2007—Gerald Green, Boston
1991—Dee Brown, Boston                        2008—Dwight Howard, Orlando
1992—Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix               2009—Nate Robinson, New York
1993—Harold Miner, Miami                     2010—Nate Robinson, New York
1994—Isaiah Rider, Minnesota                 2011—Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers
1995—Harold Miner, Miami                     2012—Jeremy Evans, Utah
1996—Brent Barry, L.A. Clippers             2013—Terrence Ross, Toronto
1997—Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers              2014—Eastern Conference (Paul George, Terrence Ross, John Wall)
2000—Vince Carter, Toronto                   2015—Zach LaVine, Minnesota

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