The NBA has evolved over time. Players and coaches are adjusting to this change with different strategies on the offensive end, but is this hurting or helping the game? Two sides will be discussed. One point being how today’s NBA offenses are bad and hurting the game, and the other point being that NBA offenses are good helping the game. The NBA has evolved to more of a guard based league. With a guard based league this means less post ups for post players and more three point shooting for players. Teams are playing more guards and shooters than post because the three point field goal is getting more value than post ups.
The average number of three point field goals attempted per game in the 1997-1998 was 12. 7. In the current NBA season, the average number of three point field goals attempted per game is 26. 9 (NBA League Averages). With the number of three point field goals attempted per game going up, offenses are relying on three pointers too much. Depending on the player, the three point shot is not an easy shot. In the NBA this year, statistically, the three point shot has a lower percentage than two point shots. Two point shots are . 457 make percentage, while three pointers are . 358 make percentage (NBA League Averages) .
So why is the number of three point attempts so high? Simple, threes are worth more points that twos. Former NBA player and current NBA analyst, Charles Barkley said the NBA is in a bad spot. This is Barkley’s opinion on three pointers. “Threes are great if you have a Steph Curry, a Klay Thompson, guys like that. And these guys can live by threes… But if you look around the NBA everybody’s trying to go small. You have a bunch of guys shooting threes who are not good shooters(Goss). ” Barkley, on another occasion, has also gone on about how the NBA is as bad as it has ever been.
Barkley explained again too much three point shooting and lack of post play is a big reason. Barkley explained that there are still great teams and great players in the league today. Players leaving college early not fully developed and not knowing how to play the game correctly. Lacking size, strength, and fundamentals (Mandell). Isolation still has an effect on NBA offenses. Isolation is when the player has the ball on offense and the floor is completely spaced out allowing the offensive player to go one on one versus his defender.
Isolation has the least points per possession at . 78 in the NBA (Hughes). The NBA has let players isolate because players keep getting more athletic. While teams are letting their players go at it one on one, the ball is not moving on offense. In isolation play, very few passes are being made; the defense does not have to put more effort or movement in guarding if the ball is not moving. This leads to offenses standing around and inefficient offensive play. The NBA has become too offensive minded that the players that specialize in defense do not get as much recognition.
Offensive and defensive plus minus is a stat that calculate how much a player hurts or helps his team on the court. Fourteen players in the top twenty offensive plus minus made all-star teams, nine of them made All NBA teams, averaged over 33. 7 minutes per game, and made an average of 10,995,000 million dollars per year. Only three players in top twenty for defensive plus minus made all-star teams, three made All NBA teams, averaged 26. 3 minutes a game, and made 5,434,000 million dollars per year (Johnson). With these numbers, the game has shown itself to be revolved around offense.
This leads to defense not being appreciated enough which results in more offense. More offense makes it look like the defense is not trying, but however; defense is not getting the proper recognition. NBA offenses are evolving. With NBA offenses getting better, this means the players are getting better. Players are becoming more athletic and more skilled, making the game more enjoyable and energetic. This makes the game and offenses more creative and more multidimensional because of how the players have progressed. This gives offenses more flow and less thinking.
This is why the read and react offense has become a lot more common. The read and react offense is an offense that has structure to it, but allows players to read the defense rather than going from one place to another, because the play was designed that way. With players becoming more athletic and skilled it allows players to make plays, trust themselves, trust teammates, and trust their own instincts. The fundamentals are still important, but it makes everything simpler on the court for players. Players are allowed to turn pro after being one year removed from high school.
This type of offense gives these young players more of a chance to play and learn at the same time without having to worry so much about structure (Clark). Three point shooting has spaced the floor and added strategy and dimension to offense. Even post players that now are becoming more likely to shoot three point shots, rather than having their back to the basket on the low block. This is known as the stretch four. Stretch four means the play stretches the defense out to the three point line because of athleticism and shooting. The stretch four makes guarding the perimeter more of a challenge.
The positions in basketball are labeled number wise one to five. One is the point guard who brings the ball up the court, two is a guard who plays on the wing, three is a guard or forward who plays on the wing, the four is a forward that plays outside of the lane or in the lane, and the five is the center that more often than not is in the post. What makes the offenses multidimensional are the player’s skills and abilities, do not forget about good coaching too though. Different offenses are being played and different tendencies are being showcased because of this. For example the screen and roll was big in the late 2000’s with Steve Nash. lthough, the screen and roll is still used and effective, defenses have learned to defend it better (Parker).
Now we see the read and react offense grow to become more popular now. This ability to change offenses and still be successful is what makes the offenses efficient and reliable. The Golden State Warriors last year had the second best offensive rating ever recorded (Pelton). Offensive rating is how much a team would score given one hundred possessions (“What is Offensive Rating- ORtg”). The Golden State Warriors fit the mold of small ball. Space the floor, play unselfish basketball, make the extra shot, and knock down the open shot.
What allows this partially is because of three point shooting. Three point shooting is becoming vital. Spacing the floor and penetrate the lane and if the defense helps to stop the dribbler, the dribbler can pass to shooters on the three point shooting. The game is being played at a fast pace. The game is being played at its fastest pace since the mid nineties and scoring is at its highest since 1992. With the game being played at a faster pace it allows more scoring opportunities for offenses, especially with players getting more athletic and skilled.
Players are given more opportunities to put their abilities on display because of the game being played faster and players are scoring at a higher rate. Regardless of the offense and how it is organized the goal is to score points and win games. No matter how good the players are or coaches are, the goal is to win the game and always try and perform well. In conclusion, the NBA is evolving offensively. Whether it is good or bad, the game is changing based on players and coaches. Players have different skillsets and abilities offensively. This leads to offenses to fit this mold, but is this hurting or helping the NBA? Time will only tell.