Sunday Statistical Test: How Much Better Can NBA Offense Get?

The NBA continues to set records for offensive efficiency even as pace continues to quicken. Offensive Rating has risen steadily since the 2012 lockout season, from 104.6 in that ill-fated 66-game crammed session that produced the worst offense since 2004, setting all-time highs in 2017 (108.8), 2019 (110.4), and 2020 (110.6). Likewise, league pace has gone from 91.3 in that lockout season eight years ago to 100.3 in 2020, the fastest the league has played since 1989 (100.6, the last time before the 2018-19 season that league pace exceeded 100 possessions per 48 minutes.) The fastest the league has ever …

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Sunday Statistical Test: Should Hack-A-Shaq Come Back?

The old “Hack-A-Shaq” strategy of fouling a poor free throw shooter to send him to the line whereupon he’d then miss at least one free throw and have to be removed from the game as an offensive liability never made much sense statistically. Unless the player was truly horrid from the line (even Shaq, a career 52.7 percent free throw shooter, would thus generate 105.4 points per 100 possessions before a single one of his free throws went for an offensive rebound and got the Magic, Lakers, or whoever an extended possession and often a putback), the strategy inevitably generated …

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Go Home Will Buikema, You’re Drunk (Reaction to SBNation Piece)

Over on SBNation, Will Buikema put together an amusing piece suggesting that the “ideal” number of points to score in an NBA basketball game is 107, resting his argument on a combination of factors including bathroom breaks for fans watching at home, desired scoring efficiency, and the contrast of these things with the current state of NBA basketball in 2020. Jon Bois chimed in down in the comments, saying he was more of a 94 points kind of guy, resting that argument on nothing but whatever bizarre surrealist pretzel logic underlies his cryptic sense of humor and, apparently, a masochist’s …

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Why Is Luka Doncic So Good?

One of the oldest arguments in basketball is, when given a player with eye-popping counting stats, “is that guy actually a great player or does he just get stats from getting a ton of touches?” It came up on Twitter again in regards to Luka Doncic, who had 42 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists in the Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Clippers Monday night and yet drew unfavorable comparisons to the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (who had 32 points and 13 rebounds in the Celtics’ win over the 76ers.) Is Luka better or do they just funnel their offense …

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The NBA is Back…but is the Level of Play Back?

After weeks of filling in the gaps in the posting schedule with some NBA history and a lot of waiting around, the “Whole New Game” relaunch of the coronavirus-delayed 2019-20 season started up last Thursday. And looking at the box scores, one of two things happened. Either the league’s offensive explosion never missed a beat…or the defensive level of play dipped to the level of an All-Star Game. There are some interesting theories kicking around the NBA Twitterverse about what’s going on—J.E. Skeets pointed out that referees are calling the games tighter because without the crowd noise to drown out …

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The Greatest Offensive Teams in NBA History

The second most-popular post in the history of this site, according to my analytics, is “The Greatest Defensive Teams in NBA History”, where I took a look at Defensive Rating relative to league average to crown teams like the Jeff Van Gundy-coached Knicks, glory-days Spurs, and the 2008 Celtics as owners of the greatest defensive seasons of all-time. More recently, the subject came up on Twitter about where the championship-winning Warriors in recent years or the Mike D’Antoni-coached Rockets rank among the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history. Sure, those guys keep shattering records year in and year out for …

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Just How Bad Was the 1940s NBA?

We take for granted the high-flying, athletic, 3-pointers-from-the-logo NBA of today, where fast-paced, efficient offenses lead to a game seemingly every night where the teams combine to score 250 points, whether it’s a 126-124 “whoever has it last wins” squeaker or a 149-101 blowout. But nearly 75 years ago, when the fledgling Basketball Association of America launched as a way to fill indoor arenas in between hockey games and before anyone could even imagine an entire nation of people going utterly stir crazy cooped up in the house with no sports to watch on TV, the quality of play was…atrocious? …

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James Harden is a “Thirsty Scorer.” What is a Thirsty Scorer?

On ESPN Thursday morning, Max Kellerman referred to the Rockets’ James Harden as “the thirstiest scorer, but not the best scorer.” The quip set NBA Twitter on fire—Kellerman wasn’t the first to use the term, but he has certainly at least for the moment popularized it—but what it didn’t do was explain just what the heck a thirsty scorer is and what separates one from a great scorer. Fortunately, we can invoke Sheed’s Law around here—ball don’t lie—and devise a stat which we’ll call Thirst Points to separate efficient scoring (there are plenty of stats for that) from pure, selfish, …

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Statistical Test: How Well Does Net Rating Correlate With Wins?

There is a maxim that this site lives by, and most of you who follow me on Twitter (@RealFoxD) know what I’m about to say: “Great teams win big and lose close.” Which, in layman’s terms, ultimately reduces to the fact that the higher a team’s point differential over the course of a season, the more games they win. It makes logical, intuitive, downright obvious sense. But the bigger question at work here is “just how much is, say, an extra point per game worth over the course of an 82-game season?” Since this site’s inception, I’ve used an assumption …

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How Well Do the Indiana Pacers Force Other Teams Into Bad Shots?

On Sunday in this space, I introduced the D’Antoni Index, a stat that combines three hallmarks of efficient basketball—3-pointers, shots near the rim, and free throws—into one handy stat that can be compared team to team and game to game against either a team itself (do they improve during the season?) or against the league (by using league average as the “index” part of the stat’s name.) The worst team in the league for D’Antoni Index is, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Indiana Pacers, one reason the #FireNate chants echo across Twitter every time the Pacers lose a …

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