Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What’s something that makes you mutter, “Somebody ought to fix that.”?
Steve Aschburner: Way to go, opening the can o’ worms on this stuff. There are so many little annoyances were I commissioner rather than columnist. But I’ll pick one: Most teams’ putrid performance in two-for-one situations. When the game clock late in any quarter gets down below 48 seconds, NBA tradition called for the team with the ball to get off a shot — OK, maybe not a perfect shot but a good scoring chance — in time to assure itself of another possession before the horn. But for the past several (dozen? 20?) years, there seems to be almost no acknowledgement of that. Teams use up too much time so there’s nothing of quality left for the back end. The advanced stats probably support that sort of clock disdain, but this is a game of possessions and it seemed like coaches welcomed the opportunity to pull appropriate plays out of their repertoires. Not a federal offense — just seems sloppy and ill-planned to me.
Fran Blinebury: People who complain about the Hack-A-Shaq/Hack-A-Howard tactic used against the Lakers center and his bricklaying ilk. Shut up and make your free throws.
Jeff Caplan: OK, here’s mine: It drives me nuts that a team is rewarded for taking a timeout in the backcourt by being allowed to advance the ball three-quarters-court and inbounds all the way in the frontcourt. Look, I know why the rule is a rule, so the NBA can milk as many fantastic finishes as possible. I get that. I just think it’s totally ridiculous to manufacture buzzer-beaters when one is not warranted. Go the length of the floor if that’s what the game demands at the time. If there’s not enough time on the clock to go the length of the floor and get off a decent shot, too bad. Hey, half-court heaves have been known to go in and those are fantastic, too. On no other level of basketball is this done and it shouldn’t be encouraged at the highest level.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The noise. Please make them stop the noise. Announcing to fans when they should cheer? Music during plays? Screeeaaaaming PA guys? Make the game the thing. I get the sideshow parts. It is, as execs like to say, the game experience. But time and place. And volume.
John Schuhmann: Last week, the Brooklyn Nets’ official twitter account tweeted an Instagram image that said they were the No. 1 defense in the NBA, allowing just 90.7 points per game. When I saw that, I just wanted to bang my head on my desk, because the Nets (or at least the person who came up with that graphic) were doing nothing but making themselves look silly. Citing points per game as a measure of team defense (or offense, for that matter) lacks a lot of context and is pretty much meaningless. That 90.7 number had more to do with the Nets’ slow pace (last in the league at the time) than with the quality of their defense. On a per-possession basis, the Nets actually ranked 11th defensively when they tweeted that image. So yeah, what bothers me most right now are people (teams, writers and broadcasters in particular, because they have fans’ ears) who don’t acknowledge the advanced stats movement, especially concepts as simple as pace and points per possession.
Sekou Smith: I’m not a purist in the sense that I want to see the game go back to short shorts and one-handed set shots, but there is a part of me that would love to see the rugged style of defense played during the late 1980s and 1990s allowed to return. I don’t mean the wrestling and fighting that used to go on with the Bad Boys or the Knicks and Heat. But simply allowing a defender to play physical defense on a guy, be it on the perimeter or under the basket, makes me feel better about the game. From the first moment you set foot on the court coaches are imploring you to play defense first, but by the time guys reach the hands-off level of the NBA, they are often resigned to the fact that they’ll play defense the same way you should talk on your cell phone in traffic … hands free! This was a grown man’s league once, years ago.