Pelicans’ Zion Williamson commits to slam dunk contest, pending NBA All-Star selection

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New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson was the top overall draft pick in 2019. The 23-year-old forward has been named to two NBA All-Star teams, despite dealing with injuries for the majority of his professional basketball career.

Williamson was mostly healthy during the 2020-21 season, when he appeared in 61 games. He averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. He earned All-Star honors for his performance that season. He has also been mostly available this season, appearing in 51 of the Pelicans’ games so far.

Despite averaging 22.1 points and 5.1 assists this season, Williamson was not an All-Star selection. The NBA recently implemented rules that require players to play a minimum number of games in order to qualify for major awards such as MVP. But, it appears Zion has his sights set on being named to the All-Star team for a third time in his career.

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Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans prepares to shoot a free throw during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 2, 2023 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Williams vowed to participate in the NBA Slam Dunk competition, but only if he was selected as an All-Star.

“I’ve got to do my part and make the All-Star Game. If I’m in the All-Star Game, I’ll do the dunk contest,” he said. “But if I’m not, I’m not doing it.”

STEPHEN A. SMITH CLARIFIES COMMENTS ON ZION WILLIAMSON, TAKES AIM AT PELICANS’ LACK OF PLAYOFF SUCCESS

The overall appeal of the dunk contest has decreased significantly in recent years as NBA stars have opted out of the competition. However, Williamson’s contingent commitment is the latest sign that star players’ interest in the competition might be on the rise.

Zion Williamson dribbles

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half of the West semifinal game of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament at T-Mobile Arena on December 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers defeated the Pelicans 133-89. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown participated in this year’s dunk contest, but G League player Mac McClung ultimately won his second consecutive contest.

Williamson remains one of the most explosive, above-the-rim athletes in the league. He routinely throws down highlight reel worthy dunks during Pelicans games.

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Prior to Brown’s participation in last month’s contest, DeAndre Jordan’s 2017 performance marked the last time an All-Star competed in the dunk contest.

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