Keeping Score: Dunking With the No-Names? N.B.A. Fans Haven’t Minded Yet…

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Orlando’s Stuff the Magic Dragon mascot was impressed when Aaron Gordon jumped over him, removed a ball from his head and then dunked in last year’s N.B.A.’s dunk contest.

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Elsa/Getty Images

This is definitely not the way that announcers in New Orleans — or, for that matter, commentators on the TNT network — will introduce the four-player lineup for the N.B.A.’s slam dunk contest on Saturday night.

“Please welcome … Aaron Gordon, who has averaged 8.8 points per game in three seasons for the Orlando Magic …

“Derrick Jones Jr., who has scored a total of 11 points in seven games for the Phoenix Suns …

“Glenn Robinson III, with his 4.3-point average over five seasons for three different teams …

“And DeAndre Jordan, the one name casual fans should know, with his per-game averages of 8.9 points and 10 rebounds in nine years with the titleless Los Angeles Clippers.”

You will not hear any such statistics cited on All-Star Saturday night, even though it is absolutely true that none of the participants have managed to average 9 points a game over the course of a career.

The N.B.A., which can no longer persuade its biggest names to participate in such a risky novelty event, seems to be doing just fine with its B- and C-list players headlining the dunk contest.

Last year’s event, in Toronto, for example, was an aesthetic and ratings success. Once airborne, the contest was a double-overtime showdown between Zach LaVine, the eventual winner, and Gordon that brought back memories of Michael Jordan versus Dominique Wilkins in the 1980s, minus the outsize reputations.

LaVine passed the ball behind his back before one dunk. Gordon routed it through his legs on a reverse dunk. According to The Associated Press, the telecast drew seven million viewers at its peak, the highest total for any cable show that night.