No, You Could Not Win a Game of Horse Against an NBA PlayerPeople who don't watch a lot of NBA basketball often have some strange beliefs about the sport. On the one hand, they sometimes assert that nobody plays defense in the NBA; another, somewhat contradictory statement is that NBA players are merely good athletes who are not able to perform fundamental tasks such as shooting. The reality is that NBA defense is often suffocating; that, and the constant pressure of the 24 second shot clock, has a lot to do with NBA field goal percentages. How do I know that this is true? One, I have seen enough NBA games up close to understand the quickness and strength of NBA players and how these attributes are used on defense. Two, I have seen NBA players who are considered "non-shooters" warm up and effortlessly drain shots from all over the court.
You may have heard about Gilbert Arenas' recent $20,000 bet with teammate DeShawn Stevenson: Arenas said that he could make a higher percentage of one handed college three pointers than Stevenson could make of NBA three pointers shot with both hands. Arenas shot 73/100, while Stevenson made 68/96 shots (he quit when he could not catch Arenas). You can watch the video here: Arenas-Stevenson Showdown
The next time somebody tells you that NBA players can't shoot and/or don't play defense, please share this video. I'm not surprised at how well Arenas and Stevenson did and I know that other NBA players could do similarly well when shooting uncontested college or NBA three pointers. The fact is that if NBA players did not play defense the game scores would be something like 200-198.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:48 AM