The Slam Dunk Contest is probably the best part of the otherwise meaningless NBA All-Star Weekend and Knicks fans now have a reason to watch it this year. According to The Athletic, second-year backup center Jericho Sims will replace Portland’s Shaedon Sharpe.
The 24-year-old Sims is averaging 3.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game this year. The Knicks were impressed with his long and lean 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame when they made him a second-round pick out of Texas in 2021. New York is no stranger to the Slam Dunk Contest either. Sims’ teammate Obi Toppin is the reigning champion.
Joining Sims in this year’s field are Pelicans wing Trey Murphy III, Houston’s Kenyon Martin Jr., and G League star Mac McClung.
Such is the state of the Slam Dunk Contest. There’s very rarely anymore star-studded pomp and circumstance. No more Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, and Julius Erving trying to outdo each other above the rim. Today it’s more about the league’s younger and dynamic players taking the court and doing dunk tricks for an adoring crowd.
Thus, it’s strange Jericho Sims was chosen at all. He stands out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the field. Murphy is a strong three-and-D. The 6-foot-6 Martin is built like a wing, but plays like a dominant power forward. McClung is looking like a star point guard in the G League, and Sharpe is a developing guard himself.
Sims, meanwhile, is a backup center who rarely plays. Once Mitchell Robinson is back from injury, Sims will probably again struggle to find minutes behind Isaiah Hartenstein.
In the meantime, Jericho Sims can look forward to Feb. 18 in Salt Lake City. He won’t win the Dunk Contest. That’s almost certain. But at a minimum, maybe he can get some tips from Toppin so he at least puts on a fun show.