The changing game of basketball



HuskyHawk

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We've all seen how the game has changed over the years, but this graphic really brings it home. Not a single two point shot outside the paint. I think this reality means that there is intense competition for certain players.

 
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Yup.

The reality is that players shoot a high % near the rim (especially in transition, etc.), and then about the same % from everywhere outside the paint. A jump shot just outside the paint is an easier shot than a 3 pointer, but you often have more defenders in close proximity.

So why would you take a 40% shot that earns 2 points instead of a 36% shot that earns 3 points?
 

HuskyHawk

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Yup.

The reality is that players shoot a high % near the rim (especially in transition, etc.), and then about the same % from everywhere outside the paint. A jump shot just outside the paint is an easier shot than a 3 pointer, but you often have more defenders in close proximity.

So why would you take a 40% shot that earns 2 points instead of a 36% shot that earns 3 points?
It's interesting just how efficiently they run this though. Look at the corner shots. Those are shorter, but otherwise more difficult with no backboard. So they take the short ones that are straight on, but not the severe angle 3's that are at full distance.

My guess is that there are players who are very effective at some of those short jumpers, and who shoot 50% on those. Analytics are interesting, but there is no doubt that defenses are set up to stop the shots people take the most, meaning it could swing back and there may be less defensive attention to some of those short baseline jumpers that used to be popular for example. It will be interesting to see in another 10-20 years.
 

Husky25

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Yup.

The reality is that players shoot a high % near the rim (especially in transition, etc.), and then about the same % from everywhere outside the paint. A jump shot just outside the paint is an easier shot than a 3 pointer, but you often have more defenders in close proximity.

So why would you take a 40% shot that earns 2 points instead of a 36% shot that earns 3 points?
Related, I don't think it is a coincidence that zone defense became "legal" in '01. Forcing defenders to keep up with their man off the ball opens up the mid range shot.
 
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It's interesting just how efficiently they run this though. Look at the corner shots. Those are shorter, but otherwise more difficult with no backboard. So they take the short ones that are straight on, but not the severe angle 3's that are at full distance.

My guess is that there are players who are very effective at some of those short jumpers, and who shoot 50% on those. Analytics are interesting, but there is no doubt that defenses are set up to stop the shots people take the most, meaning it could swing back and there may be less defensive attention to some of those short baseline jumpers that used to be popular for example. It will be interesting to see in another 10-20 years.
That's where spacing comes in. There are dual incentives for the corner shots. It's both an easier shot because it is closer than other 3s AND stretches the defense to the maximum. If you moved the player up the wing or towards the basket on the baseline, then it throws off the spacing in a different spot and allows the defense to better cover the space.

And since that corner shot is so well defined and widely utilized, guys can practice it specifically, so they make it at an even higher clip.

This is a pretty interesting (and telling) chart:
 
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That's where spacing comes in. There are dual incentives for the corner shots. It's both an easier shot because it is closer than other 3s AND stretches the defense to the maximum. If you moved the player up the wing or towards the basket on the baseline, then it throws off the spacing in a different spot and allows the defense to better cover the space.

And since that corner shot is so well defined and widely utilized, guys can practice it specifically, so they make it at an even higher clip.

This is a pretty interesting (and telling) chart:
Some people think that simply reducing the number/efficiency of corner 3s would have a huge impact on spacing and by extension, offensive flow. Ideas range from narrowing the space to shoot corner 3s to making a 3 second violation type of rule there.

Then there's the Mikan/Wilt rules that can be reverted by giving bigs more of an advantage down low to change the distribution of FGA (though the hot spots on that chart would largely be unchanged location wise).

Basically, the issue comes down to this. The average points per possession should be 1. So the ideal efficiency of a 3PA should be a 33.3% average league wide. Well, the league is now above 36% despite the volume of attempts being astronomically higher. So statistically, the most important part of the game is 3P shooting and other parts of the game are being lost in the mix as teams focus on the shot that gives by far the highest return on investment/possession. The question for the NBA to answer is how to even out the efficiency between shot types and bring balance back to the sport, while at least retaining the current amount of fan interest. I'm not sure how much longer they can wait.
 

Husky25

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Some people think that simply reducing the number/efficiency of corner 3s would have a huge impact on spacing and by extension, offensive flow. Ideas range from narrowing the space to shoot corner 3s to making a 3 second violation type of rule there.

Then there's the Mikan/Wilt rules that can be reverted by giving bigs more of an advantage down low to change the distribution of FGA (though the hot spots on that chart would largely be unchanged location wise).

Basically, the issue comes down to this. The average points per possession should be 1. So the ideal efficiency of a 3PA should be a 33.3% average league wide. Well, the league is now above 36% despite the volume of attempts being astronomically higher. So statistically, the most important part of the game is 3P shooting and other parts of the game are being lost in the mix as teams focus on the shot that gives by far the highest return on investment/possession. The question for the NBA to answer is how to even out the efficiency between shot types and bring balance back to the sport, while at least retaining the current amount of fan interest. I'm not sure how much longer they can wait.
You know what addresses all these concerns? Reverting to 2000-01 rules regarding zone defense.
 
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Some people think that simply reducing the number/efficiency of corner 3s would have a huge impact on spacing and by extension, offensive flow. Ideas range from narrowing the space to shoot corner 3s to making a 3 second violation type of rule there.

Then there's the Mikan/Wilt rules that can be reverted by giving bigs more of an advantage down low to change the distribution of FGA (though the hot spots on that chart would largely be unchanged location wise).

Basically, the issue comes down to this. The average points per possession should be 1. So the ideal efficiency of a 3PA should be a 33.3% average league wide. Well, the league is now above 36% despite the volume of attempts being astronomically higher. So statistically, the most important part of the game is 3P shooting and other parts of the game are being lost in the mix as teams focus on the shot that gives by far the highest return on investment/possession. The question for the NBA to answer is how to even out the efficiency between shot types and bring balance back to the sport, while at least retaining the current amount of fan interest. I'm not sure how much longer they can wait.
You know what addresses all these concerns? Reverting to 2000-01 rules regarding zone defense.
It's tough because reducing offensive flow is a thing that basically no fan wants. Flow is beautiful. Flow is fun to watch. Every sports league has over time enacted or removed rules to enhance flow. So how do you make the space inside the arc viable without hurting the flow?

I do like that corner 3 second idea. It increases movement, which actually helps with flow and excitement while reigning in 3 point supremacy a bit.
 
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It's tough because reducing offensive flow is a thing that basically no fan wants. Flow is beautiful. Flow is fun to watch. Every sports league has over time enacted rule that enhance flow. So how do you make the space inside the arc viable without hurting the flow?

I do like that corner 3 second idea. It increases movement, which actually helps with flow and excitement while reigning in 3 point supremacy a bit.
There’s never consistent enforcement of 3 second rules, that’s my gripe there.
 

nelsonmuntz

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We've all seen how the game has changed over the years, but this graphic really brings it home. Not a single two point shot outside the paint. I think this reality means that there is intense competition for certain players.

The problem with the analytics is that each shot is not an independent variable. Shots are set up by prior possessions. If all shots are at the 3 point line and the rim, defenders can pressure the perimeter much more intensely as long as they have a rim protector at the hoop, especially if they are not worried about a pull up or mid-range shot. Defenses will literally leave mid-range shooters open because they know players are unlikely to take those shots.

The game will adjust.
 
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There’s never consistent enforcement of 3 second rules, that’s my gripe there.
Big men are taught to move and flash at least because of the rule. They don't usually camp in one particular spot in the paint, and when they do, they are at least sometimes called. So that rule has been a success by means of coaching change due to the rule existing, if not in actual enforcement of the rule. It would be tough for officials to watch and count a guy away from the play, but I think likely the same "coaching enforcement" would kick in for someone camping in the corner. Coaches would then have their guys move and set back screens, etc, or run the baseline corner to corner like they were playing against a zone.
 
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Intuitively, this gravitation to either a 3 or layup would not seem good for the game. For years I've thought the premium for the three point shot is too great - based on the average percentage made. Or, too little value is given for a two. No one is going to change scoreboards to accommodate a 2.5 shot, so they move the line out.
If you play one-on-one, the smaller guy always wins...provided he can shoot. Trading 3's for 2's is a losing approach.
 
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Yup.

The reality is that players shoot a high % near the rim (especially in transition, etc.), and then about the same % from everywhere outside the paint. A jump shot just outside the paint is an easier shot than a 3 pointer, but you often have more defenders in close proximity.

So why would you take a 40% shot that earns 2 points instead of a 36% shot that earns 3 points?
How about if the got rid of the 3 point line
 
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The change has been good for the game in my opinion but beginning last season it started to become a little too much for me. This is all opinion based. I still love the NBA especially compared to boring college basketball with an unnecessary whistle or a timeout every minute.
 

XLCenterFan

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This seems like simple game theory to me. Why would anyone, EVER take a long 2? There is zero expected value in a mid-ranged jumper.

I have seen the NBA game change drastically since I began watching. We went from watching the "Bad Boys" to the "Splash Brothers." Rock bottom was probably the Rockets/Wizards game earlier this season that ended 159-158. This was without OT I believe.
 

XLCenterFan

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I really don't watch NBA anymore until about 1-2 months before the playoffs start. However, once the playoffs start, I watch games every night.
 
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Yup. Its an absolute bore fest. I used to watch regular season games all the time growing up in the 90s. Still watched in the early 00`s. 10`s was only watching playoffs and over the last decade or so I'm barely even watching the Finals.
This is wild to me. I'm curious, why do you find it boring? Outside of the Houston Rockets, I don't think NBA basketball has ever been as enjoyable to watch.
 
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