We are Witnessing a Historical NBA Season on Both Ends of the Floor

Apr 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) gestures to fans before a game against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is playing at a never-seen-before pace. Teams are scoring at a higher volume than ever before this season, and records have been set at both ends of the floor. The offense of NBA teams this season is faster than it ever has been. So today, we’ll dive deep into this truly unprecedented season.

Offensive & Defensive Records are Being Set

Apr 5, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) shoots against Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) in the second quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

As stated above, the game is more offensive-oriented than ever before. Some of the offensive statistics this season are truly mind-boggling. For example, the eight highest offensive ratings of all time by a team are from teams this year. The Nets, Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Blazers, Mavericks, Bucks, and Suns have some of the best offenses ever.

Buddy Hield, Steph Curry, and Damien Lillard are all top 10 all-time in threes made per game this season. Also, an absurd 13 NBA teams this year are attempting 35+ threes per game. The NBA is more focused on three-pointers in the 2020-2021 season than ever before, as seen by these statistics.

Several NBA teams and players have historically bad defenses this season. Four of the bottom seven defensive ratings by a team in NBA history are from this year. The Kings, Trailblazers, Pelicans, and Timberwolves all have some of the worst defenses of all time this season.

Furthermore, six of the ten worst defensive ratings by a player in a season all-time are from 2020-2021. NBA teams are focusing much more on offense, and it shows in these surprising statistics.

In the modern NBA, scoring 120+ points in regulation is more common than ever before. The game has become much more reliant on offense, reflected in this seasons’ poor defensive statistics and incredibly high offensive statistics.

Several NBA teams are playing at unprecedented levels on both ends of the floor this season.

Utah Jazz

Apr 10, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) reacts after hitting a three-pointer in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of offense, Utah is truly in a field of their own this season. This year, the Jazz have the third-best offensive rating by any team in NBA history. Utah makes more threes per game by any team in NBA history. There are also a staggering four players attempting over six threes a game on the Jazz. This includes even Jordan Clarkson, who comes off the bench.

Also, two of their players, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles, both have a top 15 offensive rating of all time. Joe Ingles has the best rating of all time, with 135.2, and Rudy Gobert has the 11th best rating of all time, with 131.1.

 Utah has genuinely taken the NBA by storm. They have the best record in the league and are playing at a level offensively that has never been seen before.

Sacramento Kings

Apr 2, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) high fives forward Harrison Barnes (40) as Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris (88) walks between them during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
 Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This season, the Sacramento Kings have the statistically worst defense of all time. They have the poorest defensive rating of any team in NBA history, with an abysmal 118.3. Additionally, several players on this year’s Kings roster are playing historically poor defense. Four of their players this season have a bottom ten defensive rating in NBA history. Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Tyrese Haliburton are all playing statistically horrible on the defensive end.

The Kings are an example of a team with an exceptional offense. With great shooters, playmakers, and isolation scorers, Sacramento’s offense is exceptionally well-rounded. However, their defense is close to nonexistent this season.

Brooklyn Nets, A Poster Team for the New Era

Jan 31, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) and Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) stand at the scorer's table against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have a stellar offensive team this season. James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, and Joe Harris–some premier scorers and shooters.

Harden, Durant, and Irving are averaging 25+ per game this season. The Nets’ big three are scoring at record volume and efficiency. Because of this, the Nets currently have the best offensive rating in NBA history, with 118.5.

However, in possessing this offensive firepower, Brooklyn has sacrificed defense. They allow the sixth-most points per game this season and have a bottom 20 defensive rating all-time.

Brooklyn’s style of play seems to be getting more and more common in the NBA. A team with superb, fast, and exciting offense but a more sluggish defense. The Nets are a sign that the NBA is changing on both ends of the floor. The game is evolving and becoming a sport that is faster and less focused on defense. They are a poster team for the new era of play.

Is this Good for the NBA?

Mar 29, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots against Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
 Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to say whether a more offensive-focused game is better for the NBA. On the one hand, it’s exhilarating for the fans to watch high-scoring games with two teams going at it on offense. On the other hand, grit and physicality were once a massive part of the game but aren’t as much anymore.

The NBA is an entirely different game on both ends of the floor than twenty years ago. The game will only continue to evolve, and it will be interesting to see how teams adapt to new circumstances in the future.

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