The NBA officially announced Utah Jazz rookie guard Donovan Mitchell has replaced Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest. The event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 17, during All-Star Weekend at Staples Center.
Mitchell will also play in the Rising Stars Challenge, but will no longer participate in the Skills Challenge.
He joins a field that includes Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. and Dallas Mavericks rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. Mitchell’s inclusion gives the contest another explosive dunker.
Beyond some of his highlight-worthy dunks this season, Mitchell has impressed all around. He leads all rookies in points per game (19.7) and 3-pointers made (115).
That play has put the No. 13 overall pick in the thick of the conversation with Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers for Rookie of the Year.
Mitchell’s opportunity in the Dunk Contest was created by a hip injury that’s forced Gordon to miss the Magic’s past four games, including Monday night’s contest. Gordon leads the team with 18.4 points per game this season.
Gordon competed the past two years in the dunking event, finishing as runner-up in 2016, and getting eliminated in the first round last year.
Defending Slam Dunk Contest champion Glenn Robinson III suffered an ankle injury during training camp and only recently returned to the court, playing for the Pacers’ G League affiliate.
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