Before this season, there was a little-noted change in the NBA rule book that stated, “Defenders shall not impede any shot by an opponent; if at all possible, the offensive player will be allowed to shoot unguarded.”
Or so it seems.
Like a runaway real estate market, the NBA is in the midst of a scoring boom with no bust in sight. It’s become an on-court video game, with the ball going back and forth frenetically and players taking shots from near and mostly far.
This isn’t your father’s NBA, this is your father’s night out with the boys that ends up with a ThunderCats tattoo.
Just last week in the NBA:
* James Harden had back-to-back-to-back 57-point, 58-point and 48-point games.
* Stephen Curry had a 23-point third quarter.
* The Golden State Warriors had a record 51-point first quarter against the Denver Nuggets.
* On Tuesday, three teams scored 140 points on the same night for the first time since 1984.
* On Wednesday, the New Orleans Pelicans scored 140 points — and lost. The Houston Rockets scored 142 points — and lost.
* The Rockets attempted a record 70 three-pointers in a game in which they shot 35 two-pointers.
* The Warriors and the Pelicans combined for a record 43 three-point shots made.
Why is NBA scoring up?
Well, the generational talents of Harden and Curry alone create more offense. Other teams are imitating the Warriors’ fast-pace style. Three-point shots are trendier than sustainable seafood. Referees are calling more fouls for grabbing and holding, on the rare occasions that defenders are close enough to grab and hold.
Another factor: After offensive rebounds, the shot clock now only resets to 14 seconds rather than 24. Most possessions are only taking 14 seconds anyway; it’s as if everyone is double-parked.
(Column Intermission: NBA referees will engage fans on Twitter during select games the rest of the season to discuss calls, another step forward and backward. We don’t need more transparency here, we need less deliberation. This officiating obsession is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad thing for games and, frankly, for the future of the planet. And, yes, I think it’s related to climate change.)
The sport has become somewhat reckless, somewhat defenseless and somewhat mindless.
It’s like a pickup game out there.
There should be a middle ground between the old Bad Boys, you-will-be-beheaded-if-you-drive-the-lane, 88-85 slugfests and today’s Cirque du Soleil, holiday-on-ice, 126-122 spectacles.
Remember in “Hoosiers,” in which Coach Norman Dale espoused his four-passes-before-anyone-shoots edict? Now it’s first one across half-court shoots.
The other night, I believe Curry even took a shot from the locker room — it would’ve gone in, but it was blocked by Draymond Green’s ego.
A couple of weeks ago, Curry’s teammate, Klay Thompson — perhaps the best catch-and-shooter in league history — scored 43 points against the New York Knicks and he only dribbled the ball four times total.
On the other hand, Harden sometimes dribbles a lot and sometimes doesn’t dribble at all.
Go Google “James Harden traveling” and you’ll get the best bargain in-home entertainment outside Netflix. It doesn’t matter how many steps he takes, he apparently never travels. Harden is known for his step-back three-pointers, but of late he is executing a “double step-back” — do the math on that baby and figure out how many steps he’s taking — which looks more like he’s dancing the rumba than making a legal basketball move.
Heck, why not put them all on roller skates and eliminate dribbling?
Actually, it’s fun to watch; then again, so is a solar eclipse. The thing is, neither one is basketball as we know it.
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