The Dunk Contest Judging System Is Broken. Let’s Fix It

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The Dunk Contest last Saturday night was one of the best of all-time, and had fans on their feet for the entire final round waiting to see what 20-year-olds Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon were going to do. The two took any expectations that anyone had going into the night, and threw them down on the ground and stomped on them. It brought life back to the previously dead Dunk Contest, and got everyone excited for future All-Star Saturday nights.

The only problem I had with the night was the judging. If that’s the only problem coming out of the Dunk Contest, that has to be considered a successful event. The problem is a glaring one to me, however, because it changed the outcome of this competition and set poor standards for future ones. I think judges are too quick to hand out perfect scores of 50 to every amazing dunk they see, which I understand because of the high quality of every dunk from last Saturday. I just can’t comprehend how Gordon lost the competition with some of the dunks he pulled off. Check these out, and realize that, after pulling all of these off, Gordon got second place for the night.

Those aren’t even all of the dunks, those are just the best three. The last one of those three is one of the best dunks I’ve ever seen. The more I watch it, the more I enjoy it and the more impossible it really looks. That dunk alone should’ve won the contest, and that’s where the flawed judging system comes in. The final round featured six straight perfectly scored dunks, which made the two competitors go back and forth basically until one ran out of ideas.

I think it’s time for the NBA to shake things up when it comes to scoring the Dunk Contest. I’ve talked about this idea with a couple of people, who each agreed that it would be a good idea and help fix the scoring of the Dunk Contest. My idea is to give each judge one chance to give a score of 11 in the final round in order to take away ties and give them the chance to give the best dunk of the night, in their opinion, the recognition it deserves. It would give a clear winner rather than having the final two players do more dunks and wait for someone to fail or dwindle down, rather than appreciating success.

The “11 score” wouldn’t apply to the earlier rounds, since there never will be four players competing that all deserve to be there. This year, the two extra players happened to be Andre Drummond and Will Barton, who just weren’t on the same level as LaVine and Gordon. Putting the new scoring system in the final round would make things more interesting, and would help determine a true champion in the contest.

Until a new system is put in, amazing dunks won’t be rewarded for how stunning and perfect they really are. Aaron Gordon was the victim in this year’s contest, but I think he would’ve won if the judges were able to give him the recognition, and the scores, he truly deserved.

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