NEW YORK – Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell will replace Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Mitchell will no longer participate in the 2018 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge on the same night. He will be replaced by Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield.
Mitchell leads Utah and all NBA rookies in scoring with 19.7 points per game to go with 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.53 steals in 49 games. 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. The 6-3 Mitchell joins forward Larry Nance Jr. of the Los Angeles Lakers, 2018 NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers and fellow rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks in the Verizon Slam Dunk field.
Gordon withdrew from Verizon Slam Dunk because of a strained left hip flexor, which will cause him to miss his fourth consecutive game when Orlando visits the Miami Heat tonight. The 2016 Slam Dunk runner-up, Gordon is averaging career highs of 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 39 games in his fourth NBA season.
Hield is averaging 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 50 games in his second season. He leads Sacramento with 101 three-pointers and is tied for ninth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (43.2).
The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge now consists of Hield, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets and Lou Williams of the LA Clippers as the guards in the eight-player field. The big men in the competition are NBA All-Star Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, All-Star Al Horford of the Boston Celtics, rookie Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls and defending champion and All-Star Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks.
Also during NBA All-Star 2018, Mitchell will play for the U.S. Team and Hield (Bahamas) will compete for the World Team in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars on Friday, Feb. 16 at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; TNT/ESPN Radio).