The skies and lows of the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest

Donovan Mitchell paid homage to Darrell Griffith and Vince Carter in the 2018 dunk contest. Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is the main event of All-Star Saturday and arguably the most subjective event of the weekend. Here's how the high-flying quartet graded out in an exhibition of showmanship that included tributes to three legendary dunkers.

Donovan Mitchell
Guard | Grade: A

Round 1: 48 + 50 = 98

Round 2: 50 + 48 = 98

From start to finish, Mitchell was consistent, rarely missing any dunks and scoring at least 48 on every attempt. He started by bringing out a second basket, using the backboard for a self-pass he finished with a windmill dunk.


Mitchell uses backboard on one hoop to dunk on another

Donovan Mitchell tosses the ball off a lower basket, catches it and finishes with a powerful one-handed, windmill dunk.

Later, Mitchell became the second contestant to honor a participant in the 1984 dunk contest, donning a retro Jazz jersey of Darrell Griffith -- aka Dr. Dunkenstein. Wearing short shorts, Mitchell changed plans after missing his first dunk. He brought out actor and comedian Kevin Hart and Hart's son, along with his sister Jordan, and dunked over all three on a lob off the side of the backboard for a 50.


Mitchell jumps over Kevin Hart, others for slam

Donovan Mitchell jumps over his sister, Kevin Hart and Hart's son for the one-handed throwdown.

In the final, Mitchell started by going off the backboard to pull the ball way back for a powerful dunk, earning another 50. He finished up by changing jerseys again and paying tribute to Vince Carter with a Toronto Raptors Carter jersey. Mitchell went nearly 360 (it was actually about 320) and dunked going away from the basket. While Mitchell imitated Carter's famous "it's over" symbol, there was drama before knowing whether he would get the score of 47 or better necessary to win. He beat that by one point to emerge as champion.

Victor Oladipo
Guard | Grade: D

Round 1: 31 + 40 = 71

Unfortunately, Oladipo might have spent too much time setting up the props for his second dunk. Oladipo went over to "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman, sitting courtside, to get the mask Boseman's character wears in the hit movie that opened Friday. Wearing the mask, Oladipo missed a windmill attempt, then went hard pump into a windmill for a score of 40. He missed all three attempts on his first dunk, trying to bounce pass into a windmill with a reverse finish.

Larry Nance Jr.
Center | Grade: A-

Round 1: 44 + 49 = 93

Round 2: 46 + 50 = 96

Nance's appearance in the dunk contest served as a tribute to his dad winning the inaugural contest in 1984. He started the night by enlisting the help of performance act Quick Change to turn his Cleveland jersey into his dad's 1984 Phoenix Suns uniform, complete with high socks. Nance replicated the rock-the-cradle dunk that helped his dad win, but scored only 44 points. To reach the final, Nance scored a near-perfect 49 on his second dunk. He started out of bounds and did an exaggerated one-hand windmill with a powerful finish.


Nance emulates dad by rocking the cradle

Larry Nance Jr. puts on his father's jersey and imitates a dunk his father did in 1984.

In the final round, Nance's dad came on the court to lob him the ball for a hard windmill that scored a 46 on his second attempt. Nance's last dunk will be divisive in terms of quality. He lobbed the ball to himself on the glass, then tipped it a second time above the rim and dunked on the second effort.


Nance double taps the backboard for incredible jam

Larry Nance Jr. throws the ball off the backboard twice before dunking it in, and the Staples Center crowd reacts to the play after getting a look at the replay.

Because the second tap was difficult and perhaps impossible to see live, Nance had to point to the video screen for fans to watch the replay. As soon as that happened, they responded with cheers. Nance got a perfect 50 for the dunk, but still finished two points behind Mitchell.

Dennis Smith Jr.
Guard | Grade: B

Round 1: 39 + 50 = 89

Smith's second dunk was perhaps the best of the night, as he went between his legs to his left hand going away from the basket. While Smith needed two tries to complete the dunk, he still scored a perfect 50 for the creative effort.

Unfortunately, Smith's first dunk wasn't to the same standard. After missing a harder dunk, he went with a relatively simple double-pump reverse. The score of 39 prevented Smith from advancing to the final.