The field of four for the 2022 Slam Dunk Contest has been chosen, and the Golden State Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson is one the players throwing down in Cleveland on All-Star Weekend. JTA joins last year’s runner-up Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks, along with last year’s No. 2 pick, Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets, and second-year guard Cole Anthony of the Orlando Magic. Toscano-Anderson may be the least well-known of the four players, but he also may have the most impressive dunk this year.
JTA pulled the ball back and unloaded on seven-footer JaVale McGee in a dunk that goes beyond a poster. He muralized McGee, put him on a triptych, scrawled his image on the walls of the Lascaux caves in France. In fact, let’s look at a few more angles of this museum-quality jam.
Even McGee was impressed, and the former Warrior knows dunking, having been robbed in the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest despite dunking two basketballs at once. Look, if the NBA already booked a gospel choir and drove in a Kia for Blake Griffin’s final dunk, they weren’t going to boot him after his mediocre first round. No wonder the Clippers always acted like the NBA title was going to be handed to them!
Congrats young fella ill sign it for you! https://t.co/yk9aLQaece— Javale McGee (@JaValeMcGee) December 4, 2021
JTA becomes the Warriors’ fourth dunker in the contest’s history, joining Otis Smith in 1988 - he couldn’t get past a guy named Michael Jordan in Chicago - two-time champion Jason Richardson, who should have won all three years from 2002-2004 - and Harrison “The Black Falcon” Barnes, who did not advance in a very strange dunk contest format in 2014.
He also hopes to become just the second undrafted player to win the title, following in the footsteps of Derrick Jones Jr. in 2020. Jones is a great dunker, but he clearly benefited from some judging shenanigans from Miami Heat sleeper agent Dwyane Wade to outscore Aaron Gordon in overtime. Gordon was so crushed he recorded a diss track about it, but honestly, it’s more of a “you hurt my feelings” track.
There is no truth to the rumor that the Warriors mobilized an army of K-Pop fans to push for Juan’s inclusion in the dunk contest, but you should still expect Utah Jazz fans to whine that despite leading the league in dunks, Rudy Gobert was not invited to the contest. This year’s team actually has multiple contest-worthy dunkers, including:
- Andrew Wiggins, who would win the contest easily if the participants were allowed to dunk on Karl-Anthony Towns every time.
- Jonathan Kuminga, who casually throws down in-game windmills now.
- Gary Payton II, who is leading all guards in dunks this season by a wide margin.
- Steph Curry, who regularly throws down contest-worthy dunks in the All-Star Game.
It will be exciting for Warriors fans to watch Juan, and see who or what else he incorporates into his dunks to show his personality and honor Oakland. Here are some suggestions:
- The Ghost Ride: Juan goes dumb alongside a sedan rolling slowly down the lane in neutral. When it nears the hoop, Marshawn Lynch throws an alley oop from the passenger seat.
- The Too Tall: Juan dunks over Too Short as a chorus of Oakland schoolchildren blow whistles. Look, Too Short is five inches taller than Kevin Hart, so it’s still impressive.
- The Second Quarter Special: Juan elevates for a 360 dunk, but only after committing an obvious moving screen and getting whistled for an offensive foul.
- The Juan! Juan! Juan!: JTA lines up D’Wayne Wiggins, Raphael Saadiq, and Timothy Christian Riley and dunks over all three - the full Tony! Toni! Toné!
- The Can’t Touch This: Juan does a dunk in full Hammer pants and a replica of the magical shoes from the Hammer Man animated series.
- The Jason Richardson: Juan recreates this dunk:
The Slam Dunk Contest takes place on All-Star Saturday Night on February 19th in Cleveland.