Could any dunk contest participants be future Minnesota Timberwolves?

Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2020 NBA All-Star - AT&T Slam Dunk Contest. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2020 NBA All-Star - AT&T Slam Dunk Contest. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Could any of the dunkers from this weekend’s Slam Dunk Contest be future fits on the Minnesota Timberwolves? Let’s rank them.

As a man who loves his puns, it’s only fitting that my first article for Dunking With Wolves is about dunking.

Jokes aside, Aaron Gordon, Pat Connaughton, Derrick Jones Jr, and Dwight Howard put on a show during Saturday night’s AT&T Slam Dunk Contest. There’s a case for how each player, or a player with a similar playing style, could fit in with what the Minnesota Timberwolves want to do going forward.

Let’s look at all four participants, and whether or not they might be a fit on the Wolves’ roster moving forward. Of course, there aren’t any more trades allowed until the new league year begins shortly after the Finals in June, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead…

The Winner – Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones is currently playing with the Miami Heat and will be hitting free agency this off-season.  He is an athletic, strong, and dynamic player who could fill a lot of holes on the Wolves starting with defense.

The Wolves have struggled in the past two games with strong, bigger forwards like OG Anuoby and Miles Bridges.  Jones could help fix some of that.  He could likely be had for some or all of the non-tax payer mid level exception and should be worth it,  Especially with how much the Wolves have been able to open up the floor with the influx of their new youngsters.

The Runner-Up – Aaron Gordon

The almost-winner of the dunk contest once again, Aaron Gordon is currently playing with the Orlando Magic and for most of his tenure Gordon has been miscast as a small forward, or been stuck behind a veteran the Magic brought in (like Serge Ibaka).

Gordon’s Magic tenure has been very similar to Pacers star Victor Oladipo’s tenure in Orlando, and Gordon could see a similar break if put into the right situation post-Magic.

Enter the Wolves, who just acquired a lot of floor-spacing and need a a strong forward who could do a little playmaking, defend, and give muscle. The pair basically fit like a glove.

Gordon could probably be had for the Brooklyn Nets first acquired in the Covington trade and James Johnson (whose role he’d replace) should the Wolves look to move in that direction, which they reportedly were considering prior to the deadline. (Also, if you’re on the anti-Gordon side, here’s an article for that.)

The Almost-Runner-Up – Pat Connaughton

Along with Jones, Connaughton will hit the free agent market this summer. He could be worth a flier and play in a similar role to the injured Jake Layman — ironically also a former Blazer. Connaughton would provide someone who’s able to create without the ball, a solid defender on the wing, and another athlete.

The Wolves could seek more consistency with Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver not exactly being models of consistency themselves. Connaughton will likely be available for a contract around the biannual exception.

Superman, Dwight Howard

Howard is currently playing with that team California stole from Minnesota, the Los Angeles Lakers.  He isn’t likely to come to Minnesota at this point in his career, and the Wolves probably don’t have him crazy high on their free agent wish list, either.

However, a Dwight Howard-esque player should definitely be of interest to the Wolves: a defensive anchor that can provide minutes as a roll-man threat and as a change of pace big man to help cover other defensive shortcomings of the team. There aren’t many Dwight clones around the league though, unfortunately.

Any one of these guys could help fill the Zach LaVine-sized hole left in the heart of Wolves fans and all of them could fill vital needs for the Wolves.

The Wolves are struggling with missed layups. dark. Next

Each of these guys fit, to varying extents. Rosas’ style of betting on guys that need to be given a chance/change of scenery like Layman, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, and Allen Crabbe.