Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown will step forward as the only All-Star participant in the 2024 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and that inadvertently creates a win-lose balance situation heading into Saturday night’s stage.

Brown’s dunk contest hype has been eight years in the making. Since debuting with Boston in the 2016-17 season, the now-27-year-old has a well-established reputation as one of the NBA’s most athletic young stars. Now a three-time All-Star, Brown might not be the odds-on favorite going up against last season’s defending champ Mac McClung, Jacob Toppin and Jamie Jacquez Jr., however, the Celtics co-star does have the reputation.

This season, Brown’s victimized several big-name defenders like Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela by putting a handful of opponents on jaw-dropping posters. None of Brown’s adversaries can say that same with two being G-League journeymen (McClung, Toppin) and one being a rookie (Jacquez Jr.). Therefore, Brown is walking into a situation where a high bar is — and should be — already set for the NBA’s highest-paid player.

“I think I’m in my athletic prime,” Brown told reporters after Boston’s recent victory over the Washington Wizards, per CLNS Media video.

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Let’s begin to consider the pros and cons attached to Brown’s highly-anticipated dunk contest bid at the “Dr. J Trophy” at All-Star weekend.

The influence Brown has, both as a well-known star and vice president of the NBPA, can help restore the dunk competition to being a must-watch event. For the NBA, that’s the goal in having Brown participate.

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In recent years, the dunk contest has become more and more of a snoozefest each time, last being notable when Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine went toe-to-toe in 2016. Since then, there’s been a downfall and star power, excitement and overall reason to even tune in. There’s been more watch value in the celebrity scrimmage than in watching mediocre dunkers attempt to capture their viral social media moments all while letting the NBA down.

Last year, it took 6-foot-2 McClung to generate some buzz, and the 25-year-old has played just four games in the NBA throughout four seasons.

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“I wish more top players/athletes decided to compete in the dunk contest,” Brown added, per CLNS. “I grew up watching that and that’s what I love so hopefully that comes back around. I don’t think I’ve ever been in one.”

It’d be a Michael Jordan Space Jam-sized stretch to say that Brown could single-handedly save the dunk contest. This year? Absolutely. However, years down the line, depending on how the players perceive the competition in comparison to the 3-point shootout or skills challenge, it’ll all come back to Brown and his decision to come forward when nobody else wanted to.

Bringing Boston its first dunk contest champion since Gerald Green in 2007 also couldn’t hurt too, right?

Having a physical and repetitional advantage over a trio of younger and less-experienced competitors adds pressure on Brown to rise to the occasion.

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Sure, McClung might be favored due to a recency bias, but Brown’s been putting up 10 out of 10-worthy slams throughout his career. This isn’t uncharted territory for Brown by any stretch, and everyone, including Brown’s teammates, is all aware of this.

“I told him if he stinks, then I’m going to repost it,” Celtics guard Jrue Holiday told reporters after Tuesday night’s win over the Nets, per NBC Sports Boston. “How embarrassed I’m going to be.”

Obviously, Holiday’s words were in good nature, but there’s still some truth rooted in the brotherly jab. Brown isn’t the underdog of the contest. He’s flexed on an ongoing list of NBA players at the rim so he’ll have something to prove. Even though Brown mentioned that he’d never participated in a dunk competition, not even in high school, he’ll need to perform.

It’s very likely wherever Brown’s performance lies on the yuck-to-wow spectrum, that it should be jaw-dropping one way or another.

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Featured image via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images