So. The NBA 2022 regular season has come and gone. A special season in many ways. Not least because of the troubles and disruptions of the one that preceded it, or the fact that it is the 75th anniversary season.
All thoughts have turned to the NBA Playoffs and next season.
BUT LET’S JUST PAUSE FOR A MOMENT AND REFLECT ON THE SEASON THAT’S JUST GONE
Take a look at some of the facts and figures and see if we can’t wring any more insights out of them before we cast our eyes to the future.
We will do a “deep-dive” into some of the more interesting aspects of the 2022 season.
The 2021/22 season saw a rule change in the way fouls are called. Effectively, it was supposed to make it more difficult for players to simply drive into the paint and deliberately draw a foul. It was worded as:
“…an interpretive change in the officiating of overt, abrupt or abnormal non-basketball moves by offensive players with the ball in an effort to draw fouls.”
This move meant that referees didn’t blow their whistles as much for so-called ‘fouls’ that had the rest of us pulling what’s left of our hair out and screaming in frustration.
Before its implementation, the change garnered a generally positive reaction around the NBA, including from Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry who said;
“But definitely the purity of the game, the goal is to put the ball in the basket and not be out there just living and dying by trying to get to the free-throw line any way you can. I love the effort.”
His teammate Draymond Green said;
“I’ve been really enjoying watching basketball this year. I kind of had stopped watching the NBA a bit because it was just too flailing and flopping and guys cheating the game and getting free throws. So I think that’s been great.”
BUT DID IT WORK?
Plays in which offensive players simply hurl themselves into a defender and are awarded the foul were certainly less in evidence. And many were ignored when they did occur. Job done right? Success achieved?
Well, hang on a minute. There were some other, unforeseen effects that we might have to attribute to the rule change.
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Overall scoring has nose-dived…
After a 6-year straight rise in points per game, the average has dropped to the level of 2014/15. Offenses have been rampant over the last few seasons. In fact, all 10 of the highest offensive ratings in NBA history have come from teams playing in the last 3 seasons. The top 7 are from last season!
Points scored per 100 possessions (offensive efficiency) had increased to a record of 112.3 in 2020/21
That dropped by a rather surprising 6 points this season and the total points scored in an average game dropped as a result. That is despite the average game pace increasing and the number of 3-pointers along with it.
Defenders are less afraid to commit fouls and can be more aggressive. It seems fairly clear that the players who are most negatively impacted are the offense.
OF THE 15 OFFICIAL HIGHEST SCORERS FROM THE 2020/21 SEASON, ALL BUT 2 OF THEM HAVE SEEN THEIR SCORING AVERAGES DROP
But we have to ask ourselves – would we rather continue to see high-scoring games where a huge number of points come as a direct result of cheating and play-acting? Lower scores don’t mean less exciting games. They’re just tougher and edgier perhaps.
These observations are by no means conclusive. There could certainly be other factors at play. Defenses evolve as shooters change their style. It may just be that they’re catching up.
For what it’s worth (you’re reading this, so it must be worth something), this is one of those (very) rare occasions where the team here at The Jump Hub is in total agreement.
We will happily watch a game where the scores are lower but the action is tighter and more aggressive. Scoring is, undoubtedly exciting and eye-catching. But not when it’s just free throw after free throw because of nonsensical fouls. It makes games seem lame at times and we can’t get on board with that.
HERE ARE THE LEADERS IN EACH CATEGORY:
Most Valuable Player: Nikola Jokić: 27.1 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 7.9 APG
Rookie of the Year: Scottie Barnes: 15.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.5 APG
Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Smart
Most Improved Player: Ja Morant
Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro
Games played: Saddiq Bey / Mikal Bridges / Dwight Powell / Deni Avdija / Kevon Looney: 82
Games started: Saddiq Bey / Mikal Bridges: 82
Total minutes played: Mikal Bridges: 2,854
Minutes per game: Pascal Siam: 37.9
Total points: Trae Young: 2,155
Points per game: Joel Embiid: 30.6
Total rebounds: Nikola Jokić: 1,019
Rebounds per game: Rudy Gobert: 14.7
Total assists: Trae Young: 737
Assists per game: Chris Paul: 10.8
Total blocks: Jaren Jackson Jr: 177
Blocks per game: Jaren Jackson Jr: 2.3
Total steals: Dejounte Murray: 138
Steals per game: Dejounte Murray: 2
Free throws: Joel Embiid: 654
Free throws attempted: Joel Embiid: 803
Free throw percentage: Jordan Poole: .925
3-point field goals: Stephen Curry: 285
3-point field goals attempted: Stephen Curry: 750
3-point field goal percentage: Luke Kennard: .449
2-point field goals: DeMar DeRozan: 724
2-point field goals attempted: DeMar DeRozan: 1,393
2-point field goal percentage: Rudy Gobert: .718
Field goals: DeMar DeRozan: 774
Field goals attempted: Jayson Tatum: 1,564
Field goal percentage: Rudy Gobert: .713
Turnovers: Trae Young: 303
Turnover percentage: Malik Beasley: .047
Total personal fouls: Jae’Sean Tate: 286
Win share: Nikola Jokić: 15.2
Player efficiency rating: Nikola Jokić: 32.8 (NBA single-season record)
ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM
ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM
ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM
NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM
Jaren Jackson Jr
NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM
NBA ALL-ROOKIE FIRST TEAM
NBA ALL-ROOKIE SECOND TEAM
71ST NBA ALL-STAR GAME ROSTERS
Team LeBron won the game 163-160
RANDOM FACTS AND FIGURES:
50% (15 of 30) of the league’s coaches now come from minority groups.
19-year-old Josh Giddey became the youngest player ever to score a triple-double with 17 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds.
14 players scored 50+ points in a single game this season. A new NBA record
The LA Clippers pulled back 24+ point deficits to win the game 4 times. That hasn’t happened for over 25 years of NBA action.
A record 121 international players, from 40 different countries appeared on NBA rosters this season.
Greg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, picked up a record-breaking 1,336th regular-season victory.s
Joel Embiid became the first international player (Cameroon) to take the NBA Scoring Title with a superb 30.6 PPG
Karl Anthony Towns and Kyrie Irving both scored 60+ points. One of them was on March 17th, the other the next day. It is the first time this has happened since 1961.
In the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, Stephen Curry made a genuinely unbelievable 16 successful 3-point shots.
IT IS THE HIGHEST IN ANY NBA GAME EVER AND HE FINISHED WITH 50+ POINTS
The 2nd highest for an All-Star game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo became the Milwaukee Bucks’ all-time scoring leader as he took his 14,211th point.
LeBron James recorded his 36,929th point to pass Karl Malone into 2nd place on the NBA all-time scorers list. This season he also snagged his 10,000th career assist, 100th career triple-double, and is now 3rd of all-time in minutes played.
Stephen Curry hit the all-time NBA record for 3-pointers when he took his 2,974th and passed Ray Allen
Chris Paul took the assists title and became the first player in NBA history to record 20,000 points and 10,000 assists.
Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan recorded a staggering 8 back-to-back games with 35+ points scored and 50%+ accuracy from the field. This took him past the legend, Wilt Chamberlain.
The Memphis Grizzlies earned 2nd Playoff seed in the Western Conference. The highest in the franchise’s history.
Ja Morant’s 2nd quarter buzzer-beater on his way to 52 points in a single game becomes the most viewed Instagram clip ever with 56 million views (and climbing no doubt)
Overall, the NBA generated more than 13 billion social media video views. 7% more than the previous season. That represents almost 2 views by every single person on Earth… Quite astonishing
2021/22 SEASON’S STATS
Most wins: Phoenix Suns, 64
Most losses: Houston Rockets, 62
Highest pace: Minnesota Timberwolves, 100.9 possessions/game
Lowest pace: Dallas Mavericks, 95.4
Most points: Minnesota Timberwolves, 9,507
Least points: Oklahoma City Thunder, 8,506
Most total field goals: Phoenix Suns, 3,581
Least total field goals: New York Knickerbockers, 3,088
Most total field goals attempted: Memphis Grizzlies, 7,739
Least total field goals attempted: Philadelphia 76ers, 6,932
Best field goal percentage: Phoenix Suns, .485
Worst field goal percentage: Oklahoma City Thunder, .430
Most 3-pointers: Minnesota Timberwolves, 1,211
Least 3-pointers: Washington Wizards, 860
Most 3-pointers attempted: Minnesota Timberwolves, 3,386
Least 3-pointers attempted: Chicago Bulls, 2,364
Best 3-point percentage: Miami Heat, .379
Worst 3-point percentage: Oklahoma City Thunder, .323
Most 2-pointers: Phoenix Suns, 2,630
Least 2-pointers: New York Knickerbockers, 2,006
Most 2-pointers attempted: Memphis Grizzlies, 5,060
Least 2-pointers attempted: Utah Jazz, 3,759
Best 2-point percentage: Denver Nuggets, .575
Worst 2-point percentage: New York Knickerbockers, .497
Most free throws: Philadelphia 76ers, 1,605
Least free throws: Oklahoma City Thunder, 1,233
Most free throws attempted: Houston Rockets, 2,010
Least free throws attempted: Los Angeles Clippers, 1,606
Best free throw percentage: Philadelphia 76ers, .821
Worst free throw percentage: Houston Rockets, .731
Most offensive rebounds: Memphis Grizzlies, 1,159
Least offensive rebounds: Philadelphia 76ers, 700
Most defensive rebounds: Milwaukee Bucks, 2,990
Least defensive rebounds: Toronto Raptors, 2,622
Most total rebounds: Memphis Grizzlies, 4,032
Least total rebounds: Houston Rockets, 3,446
Most assists: Charlotte Hornets, 2,302
Least assists: New York Knickerbockers, 1,793
Most steals: Memphis Grizzlies, 800
Least steals: Washington Wizards, 522
Most blocks: Memphis Grizzlies, 533
Least blocks: Miami Heat, 265
Most turnovers: Houston Rockets, 1,351
Least turnovers: Atlanta Hawks (Go Hawks!), 972
Most personal fouls: Detroit Pistons, 1,799
Least personal fouls: Cleveland Cavaliers, 1,433
Looking back at another remarkable season in the greatest sport on Earth, we see a whole host of interesting facts and figures. For those of you who use stats to form and inform your own NBA betting strategy, it is clear that while they can never truly reflect what happened, they can give us a great insight into how and why things turned out the way they did.
Let’s take a random example. Let’s say that an outsider who had never seen a game of basketball saw that the Cleveland Cavaliers committed the least amount of personal fouls across the season. They might logically surmise that this reflected well in the team’s overall position in the league and, in all likelihood, did not see them finish last.
And they would be right…
If a rudimentary analysis of just one stat like that can give us a snippet of information, then think how much you can learn and infer once your own model is complete. Check out our article – How to build an NBA betting model – for a great look at how to do so.
Listening to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talking on ESPN before the action-packed Game 3 of the NBA Finals, we picked up on something that he openly hinted at. He talked about the success of the NBA Play-In tournament that leads to the NBA Playoffs.
To say this was controversial might be the understatement of the season. We can’t even agree here in The Jump Hub office and have yet to meet any 4 consecutive fans that have the same opinion of it. Many of the players are not overly impressed either.
Anyway, Silver cited this as the reason behind thoughts of a new mid-season tournament. This would be introduced to liven up the action when it lags in the latter stages of the season.
Now, the more cynical among you may say that the reason for this apathetic final few weeks from some teams is deliberate “tanking” and that it might be better to address that cheating but we couldn’t possibly comment on that…
The NBA Finals are currently rocking our world and Game 5 is about to start so let’s leave it with this:
The NBA is not perfect. We all know that. But it is, at least, able to assess itself and try to implement changes that will genuinely improve the spectacle for the fans. Not all sports are prepared to do so and we here at The Jump Hub feel that is something to be applauded.
As with all seasons, we can look back at our highlights and lowlights. Our own personal biases and team affiliations mean that no 2 fans can ever have the same experience. But hopefully, we can all agree that the game just keeps getting faster, stronger, and more entertaining as time passes. These athletes perform at a higher level than perhaps any in history have done on a regular basis and the records keep tumbling.