NBA, dunk contest
This year's reported participants for the NBA slam dunk contest form left to right: Jacob Toppin, Jaylen Brown, Mac McClung, Jaime Jaquez Jr. via Shams Charania on Twitter/X

ALABAMA - With the NBA All-Star break approaching, rosters and contestants for each event have been announced little by little. One that took NBA fans by surprise was this year's slam dunk contest, which more than likely will include Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown, last year's champion Mac McClung, New York Knicks' Jacob Toppin and Miami Heat's Jaime Jaquez Jr.

This will be the first time in over seven years that an All-Star caliber player takes part in the dunk contest.

The inclusion of Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. is a surprise and a reward for the great season he is having. Jaquez Jr. will be just the second player of Latino descent to participate in the slam dunk contest, after Juan Toscano-Anderson participated in the event in 2022 and finishing in second place after losing to Obi Toppin in the final.

Jaquez Jr. couldn't have asked for a better start to his NBA career. Averaging 13.1 points per game on 49% shooting from the field, he earned the Eastern Rookie of the Month award in November and December, and is one of the main players for Erik Spoelstra's system this year. Only Charlotte's Brandon Miller (31.2) and Oklahoma's Chet Holmgren (30.2) are averaging more minutes per game among rookies than Jaquez Jr. (29.5).

Jaquez Jr. has experience in these kinds of contests. During his time at Camarillo High School, he participated -and won- the school's dunk contest in 2019.

(Via Hustle 2K)

His versatility, along with his desire to play hard on both sides of the floor, have gained him Spoelstra's trust, even when things get hot. No other rookie in the NBA this season is averaging more minutes played in the fourth quarter than Jaquez Jr. (9.1).

He ranks top five among Heat players in all the major statistics and metrics and leads the team in total steals this season with 50 (averages 1.1 steals per game).

Jaquez Jr. will be a busy man during the All-Star weekend, as he not only will participate in the slam dunk contest. He will also be part of Pau Gasol's team during the Rising Stars game, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT. For a third straight season, the Rising Stars game will feature a three-game mini-tournament among four teams comprised of NBA rookies, sophomores and NBA G League Players.

Rising Stars, NBA
2024 Rising Stars teams

The NBA All-Star weekend will take place between Feb. 16-18 in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the slam dunk contest scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

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