NBA: Rookie Donovan Mitchell showcases dunking excellence

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell going up for his final dunk during the NBA Slam Dunk contest, on Feb 17, 2018.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell going up for his final dunk during the NBA Slam Dunk contest, on Feb 17, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - High-flying rookie Donovan Mitchell launched an aerial assault on the basket and Devin Booker showed off his silky smooth shooting skills at the 2018 National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game skills competition on Saturday (Feb 17).

Mitchell had two perfect 50 scores over four dunks to edge runner-up Larry Nance Jr. and win the Slam Dunk contest which capped the two0day festivities leading up to the 67th All-Star classic on Sunday.

"Believe it or not I have been preparing for this since I was a kid," Mitchell said. "Growing up I was a big dunker. I wasn't really much of a basketball player.

"I just dunked and played defence and I watched a lot of Vince's (Carter) videos."

He needed at least a 47 point on his final dunk in the championship round to defeat Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers and he did it by earning a 48.

He is leading his Utah Jazz team in scoring and is one of the frontrunners to win the Rookie of the Year award this season. He leads all rookies by averaging 19.6 points per game.

Saturday's events included some of the more talented players in the league competing for three separate titles, comprising the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and the Slam Dunk Contest It is part of the build up to Team LeBron and Team Curry taking the floor on Sunday at Staples Center arena which is hosting the All-Star Game for the third time.

Mitchell joined the dunk field after 2016 Slam Dunk runner-up Aaron Gordon was forced to withdraw from the contest due to injury.

He has scored at least 40 points in a game twice, becoming the first Jazz player with multiple 40-point games in his rookie season.

His first perfect dunk score came in the semi-finals when he jumped over three people including his sister, Jordan.

He donned the jersey of former Toronto Raptor star Carter for his final jump which included a 180 degree spin and then a right-handed slam.

Phoenix Suns Booker won the three-point shooting contest in superb fashion, outlasting Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris, of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Suns guard hit 28 points in the final round. Overall, he hit 20 of his 30 balls to beat former champ Thompson, who was the runner up with 25 points.

"I'm really excited about it," Booker said. "I always said I always want to represent the city the best I can, with the support they always show for me since day one.

"The season is not going how we planned... So I'm glad I could win it."

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie defeated the Chicago Bulls' Lauri Markkanen in the final round to take home the Skills Challenge trophy.

The Skills Challenge featured two sessions, the chest pass and a top-of-the-key three pointer.