Philadelphia 76ers: Could Zhaire Smith be Philly’s first slam dunk champion?

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

With a highlight reel loaded with jaw-dropping plays at Texas Tech, could Zhaire Smith be the first ever Philadelphia 76ers slam dunk champ?

Did you know that in the 34 years since its inception, the Philadelphia 76ers have never won a slam dunk competition?

I know, crazy right?

Sure, there have been ex-Sixers who’ve won the award, most recently current-Detroit Pistons forward Glenn Robinson III, but no player has ever hoisted the trophy while donning Sixers red white and blue (or black and gold).

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However, one of the team’s offseason acquisitions could single-handedly change that as soon as next year.

At this point, it’s basically common knowledge that Zhaire Smith had a, shall we say, unique journey into the NBA, from going almost unranked as a 6-foot-4 high school center, to essentially playing power forward in Texas Tech‘s amoeba-like Red Raider scheme. With Summer League serving as the first true opportunity for the should-be guard to log extensive minutes at his natural position, Smith’s backcourt skillset is understandably still a bit of a work in process that may take a few seasons to catch up with his already impressive defensive versatility.

However, one unexpected perk of Smith’s interesting path in the NBA has to be his ability to make plays around the basket.

Simply put, he’s a dunking machine.

As highlighted by the voluminous number of highlight reels present on YouTube, Smith seemingly never turns down an opportunity to slam down a dump, often doing so with a bit of flash and fervor that will instantly ingrain him a spot into the hearts of Philly fans worldwide.

But could this be enough to get the 6-foot-5 shooting guard into the slam dunk competition and actually make some waves? It’s not unprecedented.

Though dunking is typically viewed as a big man’s move, over the last 10 years, the NBA dunk competition has been won by non-big men (4-5) nine times, including the most recent win by not-Rookie of the Year Donovan Mitchell and as well as a record-breaking two-in-a-row by 5-foot-9 ex-Delaware 87er Nate Robinson to mark his third win overall.

The shortest player in the contest history to win? None other than 5-foot-7 Atlanta Hawks point guard Spud Webb back in 1986.

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Now granted, Smith would have to show off his dunking abilities first hand to earn a spot in the competition, as conceivably over half the league is capable of dunking the ball, but if Philly’s first-round project can put in the work and impress over the first few months this season, don’t be shocked to see Zhaire Smith beat the odds and become the first player in Philadelphia 76ers franchise history to win a slam dunk championship. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t be weirder than Kristaps Porzingis winning the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.