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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Post Lockout NBA Basketball...It's Not Fantastic

Numbers often lie--particularly when they are taken out of context--but more than one fourth of the way through the truncated yet overstuffed 2011-12 NBA schedule the numbers confirm what the "eyeball test" says: post lockout NBA basketball is not fantastic.

The following chart shows selected statistics for this season compared to the previous five seasons plus those same statistics for the 50 game 1999 post lockout season and the two seasons sandwiched around that miniature campaign. The pattern is very clear: both in 1999 and in this season scoring and shooting efficiency dropped across the board. Turnovers are up significantly this season as well, though that was not the case in 1999 vis a vis the preceding and following seasons:

2011-12: 94.4 ppg, .442 FG%, .340 3FG%, .746 FT%, 15.2 TO/g
(Teams have played an average of 19 out of 66 scheduled games thus far; all other seasonal statistics are for standard 82 game seasons, except for the 50 game 1999 campaign)

2010-11: 99.6 ppg, .459 FG%, .358 3FG%, .763 FT%, 14.3 TO/g
2009-10: 100.4 ppg, .461 FG%, .355 3FG%, .759 FT%, 14.2 TO/g
2008-09: 100.0 ppg, .459 FG%, .367 3FG% .771 FT%, 14.0 TO/g
2007-08: 99.9 ppg, .457 FG%, .362 3FG%, .755 FT%, 14.1 TO/g
2006-07: 98.7 ppg, .458 FG%, .358 3FG%, .752 FT%, 15.1 TO/g

1999-00: 97.5 ppg, .449 FG%, .353 3FG%, .750 FT%, 15.5 TO/g
1999: 91.6 ppg, .437 FG%, .339 3FG%, .728 FT%, 15.3 TO/g
1997-98: 95.6 ppg, .450 FG%, .346 3FG%, .737 FT%, 15.5 TO/g

These numbers only tell part of the story, though. The lack of a proper training camp and preseason combined with the hectic regular season schedule have resulted not just in bad basketball but also high variance basketball: players and teams may look great one night but then have nothing in the tank the next night. Dirk Nowitzki outperformed Miami's trio of All-Stars a few months ago in the 2011 NBA Finals but he got off to a horrible start this season and now is sitting out a few games just to get his body (and perhaps his mind) in sufficient shape to perform at an elite level. Many other stars--young and old--are battling through injuries and/or inconsistency.

Instead of trying to squeeze every last ticket dollar and every last bit of television revenue out of this season, the NBA should have had a real training camp and preseason followed by a shorter but more meaningful regular season (the NBA could have scheduled 50 games just like in 1999, but spread those games out at a normal rate since the 2011 lockout ended earlier than the 1999 lockout did). Phil Jackson once quipped that the San Antonio Spurs' 1999 championship should be marked by an asterisk and that sentiment will likely be even more applicable to the team that emerges victorious in the 2012 NBA Finals; the playoffs figure to be characterized by wacky seeds, funky matchups and, perhaps, key injuries dictating the ultimate outcome in a way rarely if ever seen before. The 2012 NBA champion will be fully worthy, as the 1999 Spurs and all other champions are, but from a historical standpoint it will be difficult to properly place the 1999 and 2012 champions into the larger context of NBA championship teams that triumphed after playing a conventional regular season.


posted by David Friedman @ 2:10 AM



At Monday, January 30, 2012 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Awet M said...

Post-lockout NBA basketball = Rose & LeBron go 0-4 at the free throw line.

It's Faaaaaantastic!

At Monday, January 30, 2012 7:55:00 PM, Blogger Dlakerz said...

I agree with the 50 game idea. That rate at which they're playing games right now is crazy!


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