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NBA and scoring

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  • harlanzo@yahoo.com
    There has been a lot of speculation as to whether and how NBA scoring should be increased. With regards to the first question, I don t think and increase in
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 12, 2001
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      There has been a lot of speculation as to whether and how NBA scoring
      should be increased. With regards to the first question, I don't
      think and increase in scoring or 100 point games is the solution.
      The question really is how to make the game entertaining and
      watchable. I, myself, like a tough intense defensive battle more
      than the old run and gun western conference games that the old
      Nuggets and others used to run.

      However, I will concede that a balance needs to be struck between the
      two types of play. It is clear that offensive sets run in the NBA
      sometimes can be less than stellar at times. There are excessive
      isolations of players for long periods of the shot clock. This can
      kind of grind the flow of games to a halt.

      How did this happen? This appears to be the brain child of coaches
      in the early 90s who put the premium on the value of each offensive
      possession. Coaches like Riley and Van Gundy have decided that a
      jump shot can theoretically be gotten at almost anytime and therefore
      you must work the clock and see if you can get closer to the rim and
      therefore increase the percentage chance of scoring. This is not
      speculation, I live in NYC and I have heard both Riley and Van Gundy
      espouse this very theory on numerous occasions. This is also a
      reasonable strategy on the coaches parts, if you slow down the game
      and limit the possessions it will become less likely that the game
      will get out of control.

      Of course, this strategy presupposes that you do not have the horses
      to run or chuck away from the outside. This is a smart move to
      employ if you have Ewing or Olajuwon or an inept offensive squad like
      the old Phills, Mills, Hill Cavs. However, it seems less effective
      when you have guys who can run or consistently hit from the outside.
      Still, coaches like Van Gundy, prefer a slow-down game because it
      cuts down margin for error--rarely allowing the other team to get out
      and run. In this regard, zone defenses would only make the problem
      worse because instead of isolating in the post, the teams would be
      patient on the perimeter instead--which is not an improvement.

      Two questions come to mind in recognizing this offensive trend (no
      pun intended)and trying to correct it: 1) when is this strategy most
      efficient (ie how does your personne change whether this slow down is
      the best way to run a team) and 2) assuming this strategy is most
      effective or that coaches refuse to change, what can be done to make
      the game a tad more free flowing?

      With regards to the first question, I do not really know. Obivously,
      a slow down isolation style has its merits. However, one would think
      that the strategy need not be employed so often. Can't the Knicks
      get out and run more on selective chances? They do run but coaches
      need to think a bit more flexibly what to employ offensively.

      With regards to the second question, there are some ideas out there.
      Obviously, enforcing the already enacted 5-second back down rule
      could help but I've never seen the rule called. There are other
      solutions, a most radical solution that I've not entirely thought out
      the ramifications of would be to encourage running by perhaps giving
      a team an extra point if it scores within six seconds or so of when
      the shot clock starts. This is obviously a bit odd and could swing
      the pendulum too far towards run and gun but it definitely
      incentivises running.

      A less radical solution to this issue could be to lower the shot
      clock to say 20 seconds. This would not change the strategy but it
      would at least make it less tedious. (On a side note, a longer clock
      would be a disaster because it assumes offenses cannot set up. the
      problem, as I already said, is not setting up but the offense that is
      employed. A longer clock would only further encourage this grind out
      offense). Hope this made sense.
    • Dean Oliver
      ... Harlanzo suggested a few changes to make the game entertaining and watchable. One at a time... ... I ve seen it enforced, but not since early in the
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 12, 2001
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        --- In APBR_analysis@y..., harlanzo@y... wrote:

        Harlanzo suggested a few changes to "make the game entertaining and
        watchable." One at a time...

        > Obviously, enforcing the already enacted 5-second back down rule
        > could help but I've never seen the rule called.

        I've seen it enforced, but not since early in the season. I
        haven't seen it violated much either. It's a good rule that has made
        something of a difference. It fixed only one egregious problem
        though. There is still a lot of waiting around for the perfect shot,
        while actually jeopardizing the team's chances by waiting so long.
        (How to quantify this?)


        > the ramifications of would be to encourage running by perhaps
        giving
        > a team an extra point if it scores within six seconds or so of when
        > the shot clock starts.

        Never going to happen. Too gimmicky. Refs have a hard enough time
        with the clock as it is.


        > A less radical solution to this issue could be to lower the shot
        > clock to say 20 seconds. This would not change the strategy but it
        > would at least make it less tedious.

        This one could stand some analysis. The average possession (defining
        possession as the time between when one team has the ball and when
        the other has it) is now about 16 seconds long. It was about 14
        seconds in the early 80's. I think this would make a possession more
        frantic at the end, but doesn't avoid the philosophy you talked about
        -- that you can always get a jump shot -- it just now comes at 20
        seconds, not 24 seconds. I'm not convinced this will work, though it
        clearly speeds up the pace. Can Bob Chaikin simulate this??? (He's
        a group member with a simulation program.)

        Another possibility is allowing the zone, which the league is
        thinking about seriously. I worked up some notes on this for another
        group. I'll see if I can get them back.

        Dean Oliver
        Journal of Basketball Studies
      • bchaikin@aol.com
        harlan - needless to say your email was both a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to read. i ve known what you have surmised for quite some time now (most of
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 12, 2001
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          harlan -

          needless to say your email was both a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to
          read. i've known what you have surmised for quite some time now (most of this
          past decade), but only thru the benefit of statistical analysis. kudos on
          dechipering it - you have hit the nail right on the head....

          like you it is also my humble opinion (backed by some convincing numbers)
          that the sole reason for the consistently decreasing scoring since the mid
          1980s is coaches trying to keep their jobs by saying "...sure we lost, but we
          held them to 87 points...". no coach can lose consistently with a high
          scoring team in this league and keep his job, but many have lost consistently
          but remained employed with a slug-like offense (check the record on this
          one). and i have first hand knowledge of this being a life long clevelander
          and having suffered thru the "...phills, mills, hill cavs..." of mike
          fratello (uughh...)....

          i remember it all really starting with bill musselman and the expansion
          t-wolves in the early 1990s. it quickly became a fad and has continued to
          this day. i watch tapes of games from the 1980s and then watch games of today
          and wonder why i even bother watching the league as it is now (and as it has
          been for the last 5-6 years). and watching tapes of games from the 1960s and
          1970s convinces me that the game was much better to watch as a fan back then,
          even without the 3 pt shot (which i thoroughly enjoy - loved the ABA)....

          i've attached a spreadsheet to this email that shows you the yearly numbers
          since 1977-78 (when they first started keeping all the stats they keep today
          - including the trio of TO, BS, and ST). forgeting the league's lousy
          shooting of the past three complete seasons, from 1983-84 to 1996-97, the
          league effective FG% has been stable - wavering from just below 49% to 50%,
          absolutely consistent over a 16 year period. so shooting isn't the reason
          scoring went down. over that same period the number of points scored per team
          ball possession has also been stable, wavering between 1.05 to 1.07 pts/poss
          over that same time period. so "better defense" isn't the reason either for
          scoring going down, because the defense has remained the same. but scoring
          decreased steadily from a high of 110 pts/48min game (8485) to 96 pts/48min
          game (9697). why?...

          because team possessions per game have steadily dropped from 103 per game per
          team (about 14 seconds per team possession) to close to 91 per game per team
          (close to 16 seconds per team possession) from the mid 80s to the mid 90s.
          that's a whopping 13% decrease in the pace of an average game over a 16 year
          period. as anyone who has played the game of basketball at a competitive
          level can tell you, coaches and coaches only dictate the pace of a game.
          players almost always want to run, its the coaches that slow down the game....

          remember, all of the above doesn't even consider the league's lousy shooting
          of the past three seasons - effective FG% of between just under 47% to just
          under 48% compared to the consistent 49% to 50% effective FG% of 8384 to
          9697....

          i believe i have the proper suggestions for "correcting" this trend, and they
          are indeed quite simple. first and foremost is the premise that it should
          never be advantageous to commit a foul - not ever. the first thing the league
          should do is to bring back the bonus free throws (last used in the very early
          1980s) when a team is in the penalty, the 3 to make 2 and 2 to make 1 (when
          the bucket is made). that right there will open up the lane. people today
          will say that the extra free throws will slow up the game, but the 1970s
          disproves that....

          next any foul where its obvious the defender was not going for the ball is an
          automatic ejection, even simply grabbing the player with the ball from behind
          on a breakaway. anytime a defender commits a foul on the player with the ball
          without going for the ball (in the judgement of the official) should be akin
          to 1st degree murder. a hard foul where its obvious the defender was going
          for the ball but also added a hip (or two) for exclamation should be treated
          like they treat a flagrant foul today. but an automatic ejection for nailing
          the man with the ball but with no attempt at going for the ball will
          certainly open the offense back up. and both of these scenarios should result
          in free throws AND possesion of the ball. if those were put into effect you'd
          rarely see them ever happen (except in blowout games)...

          also any foul is a shooting foul in the last two minutes (not sure yet if i
          like this) will keep it "clean" when clean is most needed - at game's end.....

          what not to do?...

          one - if the league allows zone defenses, they might as well give fans
          magazines and newspapers as they enter the arenas. if they allow zones no
          one, i repeat, no one will re-up their season tickets....

          two - forget the present zone defense rules. they only encourage one-on-one
          or two-on-two basketball with 6-8 guys standing above the key. that's a whole
          lot of fun to watch - nothing i like better than watching 7' 7" shawn bradley
          playing above the key on offense. if they simply called defensive 3 seconds
          (which is in the rule book - i know i used to ref) like they now call
          offensive 3 seconds, and i mean call it often, that will solve that
          problem....

          lastly, what i'd love to see but will never happen (TV commercial time) is
          each team limited to one timeout per half...

          institute these changes and in just a few years (2-3) you'd be back to having
          games with total ball possessions per team per game in the high 90s to low
          100s, even if you do not change the shot clock from 24 to 20 seconds...

          bob chaikin
          bchaikin@...
          www.bballsports.com

          p.s. - dean, my software does use team possessions as a game clock...
        • Dean Oliver
          ... numbers ... keep today ... What s your take on why it gets slower in the playoffs? I ve noticed this, too. ... reason ... Pace is the biggest reason.
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 13, 2001
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            --- In APBR_analysis@y..., bchaikin@a... wrote:

            > i've attached a spreadsheet to this email that shows you the yearly
            numbers
            > since 1977-78 (when they first started keeping all the stats they
            keep today
            > - including the trio of TO, BS, and ST).

            What's your take on why it gets slower in the playoffs? I've noticed
            this, too.

            > absolutely consistent over a 16 year period. so shooting isn't the
            reason
            > scoring went down.

            Pace is the biggest reason. Definitely. And it is coaches slowing
            the game down.


            > are indeed quite simple. first and foremost is the premise that it
            should
            > never be advantageous to commit a foul - not ever. the first thing
            the league
            > should do is to bring back the bonus free throws (last used in the
            very early
            > 1980s) when a team is in the penalty, the 3 to make 2 and 2 to make
            1 (when
            > the bucket is made). that right there will open up the lane. people
            today
            > will say that the extra free throws will slow up the game, but the
            1970s
            > disproves that....
            >

            This is probably a very good suggestion. One thing Bob overlooks a
            little in his statement that "shooting isn't the problem" is that big
            men are shooting worse in the '90's. No one guy is shooting 65%
            anymore like they did in the '80's. And this is because of the hard
            fouling. Bringing back the 3/2 should help that. I hesitate only a
            little with Bob's suggestions about obvious hard fouls, that
            hesitation due only to ref's indecision on a lot of stuff already.
            But I agree completely with the spirit of it.

            >
            > what not to do?...
            >
            > one - if the league allows zone defenses, they might as well give
            fans
            > magazines and newspapers as they enter the arenas. if they allow
            zones no
            > one, i repeat, no one will re-up their season tickets....

            Not sure I agree. I tend to believe that the zone is a less
            effective defense than a man in many ways. Allowing it does
            strengthen the defense by giving it another option, but getting away
            from the stifling man would also be good for offenses. But I have
            seen little evidence that a zone even slows down the game. Since a
            zone (some zones) tries to take away the middle, it should become a
            coach's theory to take earlier shots in an offense. Further, you can
            hide weak defending good shooting perimeter players in a zone -- not
            sure if this is the problem, as Bob says. You can hide good
            offensive big men in foul trouble, then.

            >
            > two - forget the present zone defense rules. they only encourage
            one-on-one
            > or two-on-two basketball with 6-8 guys standing above the key.
            that's a whole
            > lot of fun to watch - nothing i like better than watching 7' 7"
            shawn bradley
            > playing above the key on offense. if they simply called defensive 3
            seconds
            > (which is in the rule book - i know i used to ref) like they now
            call
            > offensive 3 seconds, and i mean call it often, that will solve that
            > problem....
            >
            > lastly, what i'd love to see but will never happen (TV commercial
            time) is
            > each team limited to one timeout per half...
            >
            > institute these changes and in just a few years (2-3) you'd be back
            to having
            > games with total ball possessions per team per game in the high 90s
            to low
            > 100s, even if you do not change the shot clock from 24 to 20
            seconds...

            The defensive 3-s rules:

            Rule 12, Section II, part c: Defenders may be in a position within
            the "inside" lane for a tight 2.9 seconds. They must re-establish a
            position with both feet out of the "inside" lane, to be legally clear
            of the area.

            Rule 12, Section II, part d: A defender may be positioned within the
            "inside" lane with no time limitations, if an offensive player is
            positioned within the 3' "posted-up" area.

            Has anyone counted to see how often it gets violated now?

            >
            > p.s. - dean, my software does use team possessions as a game
            clock...

            Does this mean you couldn't simulate a 20-s clock? Your software has
            some great potential. You might want to give a primer here on what
            it does.

            Dean Oliver
            Journal of Basketball Studies
          • Gary Collard
            ... The data s not available I suspect, but shooting percentage by time left on the clock might be instructive. 14-24 are probably pretty good, because these
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 13, 2001
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              Dean Oliver wrote:

              > --- In APBR_analysis@y..., harlanzo@y... wrote:
              >
              > Harlanzo suggested a few changes to "make the game entertaining and
              > watchable." One at a time...
              >
              > > Obviously, enforcing the already enacted 5-second back down rule
              > > could help but I've never seen the rule called.
              >
              > I've seen it enforced, but not since early in the season. I
              > haven't seen it violated much either. It's a good rule that has made
              > something of a difference. It fixed only one egregious problem
              > though. There is still a lot of waiting around for the perfect shot,
              > while actually jeopardizing the team's chances by waiting so long.
              > (How to quantify this?)
              >

              The data's not available I suspect, but shooting percentage by time left on
              the clock might be instructive. 14-24 are probably pretty good, because
              these are fast break or open shot situations for the most part, but it mighe
              be interesting to see <4, 5-8 and 9-12 (or other granularites) to see if
              waiting longer is beneficial.

              --
              Gary Collard | Office: garyc@..., 469-357-8485
              i2 | Mobile: 214-924-3263
              SCP QA Team | Fax: 469-357-8613
              | Home: collardg@..., 972-790-1166

              Co-Moderator, Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)
              mailing list
            • Dean Oliver
              ... left on ... because ... it mighe ... see if ... I ve never seen these data (maybe Harvey Pollack has it?). I m going to a HS game tonight and I ll track
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 13, 2001
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                --- In APBR_analysis@y..., Gary Collard <garyc@i...> wrote:

                > The data's not available I suspect, but shooting percentage by time
                left on
                > the clock might be instructive. 14-24 are probably pretty good,
                because
                > these are fast break or open shot situations for the most part, but
                it mighe
                > be interesting to see <4, 5-8 and 9-12 (or other granularites) to
                see if
                > waiting longer is beneficial.

                I've never seen these data (maybe Harvey Pollack has it?). I'm going
                to a HS game tonight and I'll track this during the game. Can't
                really do it on a televised game.

                Dean Oliver
                Journal of Basketball Studies
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