For the first time during his third NBA season, Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons is going to be participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
And needless to say, he's looking forward to it.
"Super excited. I can't wait man," Simons said of the dunk contest on NBC Sports Northwest's Trail Blazers Courtside.
Simons had been trying to get into the contest for years, but bigger-name players always managed to get the call over him. This year, he believes he got in for one major reason.
"I guess a lot of people declined this year, so it was kinda the perfect storm for me," Simons said. "I honestly didn't expect to be picked, so it kinda caught me by surprise when I got the phone call that I had been invited."
Simons isn't taking that as a slight at all. In reality, he's hoping his relative anonymity compared to other players from across the league will actually be an advantage for him.
"Anything I do is gonna be impressive just off the fact that people don't expect it from me," Simons said.
Simons also has the added luxury of having last year's slam dunk champion, Derrick Jones Jr., as a teammate. As result, Simons has been able to pick his brain and get some tips on which dunks will impress.
Jones also offered him a key piece of advice when choosing to go with a dunk: Make sure you make it on the first try.
And just how many dunks will Simons have in his bag of tricks? He's working on four. And if the contest goes into a dunk-off as it did last year between Aaron Gordon and Jones Jr. did, Simons has a bold plan for how to compete.
"Anything extra, and I'm just gonna wing it."
That idea may be just crazy enough to work.