Blogtable: (Too) Easy Offense

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.


Questioning the Heat | Easy offense | Most intriguing team



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Old-timers (Kobe) complain that rules favor the offense too much now. What do you think?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I understand why those who endured hand-checking, like Bryant, Michael Jordan and other old-schoolers, feel that way. But it still looks awfully hard to score in today’s NBA. Longer, more athletic players are reaching and grabbing constantly, and they’ve been coached in the most sophisticated defensive schemes. My biggest beef with NBA offense is its polarization: All restricted zone or 3-pointers. I miss the creativity and entertainment of great mid-range scorers.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comI do think the 20-year pendulum has swung too far in the other direction from the Rockets and Knicks thrashing around like dinosaurs in the prehistoric ooze of the 1994 Finals, when it practically took the swinging of a club or a tire iron to get a foul called on a defender.  There’s a happy medium in there somewhere and I’m sure the refs will get to it as soon as they figure out how to call flopping … or walking.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comSure the rules favor offensive players too much. So what? The same has happened in the NFL where quarterbacks can’t be touched and defensive backs can’t touch wide receivers. We like offense. And that’s what we’ve got in the NBA (at least in the Western Conference where 13 of 15 teams average more than 100 ppg and 10 average more than 103 ppg). We’ve moved 180 degrees from the isolation-heavy days. Two words to describe today’s NBA: ball movement. We have offenses that run up and down the floor, whip the ball around and shoot a lot of 3s. Has too much physical play been weeded out of today’s NBA? Yeah, probably. But today’s NBA is a more entertaining game than, say, a decade ago.

James Harden (Bill Baptist/NBAE)

James Harden (Bill Baptist/NBAE)

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: There is no question rules changes have been designed to enhance scoring. But allowing the zone certainly favored the defenses. Or at least it’s allowed bad defenders to be hidden a little better. That’s not one for the offense.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comIf so, somebody forgot to tell the Pacers. I think we’re at a good place in regard to how easily a team can score from possession to possession. You still need guys who will draw the defense’s attention and you still need (multiple) guys who can make shots. If you don’t have those things, you’ll look like the Bucks.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comIf you were reared on the NBA I was, you know the old-timers are right. There was a time in my youth when you had to draw blood for a foul to be called. Molars had to fly for someone to call a flagrant foul. There were no free layups and the physical toll exacted on the bodies of star players was significant. That is not the NBA we are enjoying now. Honestly, I’m just as in love with this current version of the game as I was with the older version. It’s not about choosing one over the other for me, it’s about adapting to the current version and finding what you love about it (the competitive spirit exhibited by the best of the best) that resonates throughout all eras. The great ones have always played the game gracefully, even when the rules were not tilted in favor of their particular style. That will never change, no matter what the rules of the day might be. But the complaints are legitimate and so is the wonderfully global nature of today’s game where we get to see the movement and flow that allows the most skilled offensive technicians on the planet flourish.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: Get off my lawn, you crazy kids! Hey, I get how it works — everything that was old is usually considered better, at least to people who were around back then. And the NBA was definitely different a few years back — more physical, which made it easier to slow down offensive players. But I disagree with my elders on this topic: Call me crazy, but I like watching people score buckets. I want to see Kevin Durant raining 3s and Blake Griffin catching alley-oops. Defense may win championships, but baskets and dunks sell tickets and open eyes. And that can’t be all that bad, can it?

Marc-Oliver Robbers, NBA Deutschland: I agree. Just one example: Look at James Harden and how easily he gets on the free-throw line. His game’s tailored perfectly to the current rules. He absorbs the contact every time he cuts in the paint, gets the free throws and scores easily. I think, with fewer calls, the flopping problem wouldn’t be so present as it is today. The players would learn fast. And in my opinion, nothing is nicer than hard defense.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: I think the new rules just favor the show. And the show, especially during the regular season, is exactly what fans want. More baskets, more points, more action, more suspense. Since the number of fans is going up worldwide, I guess it’s working.

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: I agree! As a fan that grew up watching the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks manhandle teams in the late 80s/early 90s, I love aggressive, physical basketball. While I do like the freedom and flow that the rule changes gave to types like Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker and Steph Curry, I liked it better when you had to be tough to earn those trips to the paint. Imagine if Allen Iverson was at his peak during this age! Forget about it, imagine if Michael Jordan played now! He might have won every title between 1987 and 1998!

13 Comments

  1. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Maybe the NBA has gotten stricter on how they call fouls, in general. You know what? It may be for the better. There’s a reason NBA players never seem to play past 40. Wouldn’t it be great if NBA players could play well past 40 years old (like Major League Baseball)?

    With the myriad of injuries as of late, they have to be somewhat strict when calling defensive fouls. If Bryant wants it to be more physical, he may never play in the NBA ever again. BAM! More injuries!

    Bryant is just pouting and crying for attention.

  2. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Plus, it is still very physical. NBA athletes today are more physically fit than ever before. Especially with the new advanced training methods.

    There are many plays where a guy gets whacked hard when driving to the bucket, but the refs don’t call anything. The refs do a great job by allowing offensive and defensive players room for physical play.

    But it’s always been the rule that a defensive player can never (for instance) whack a shooter across the shooting arm. Then, they will call a foul.

    Many things haven’t changed in the NBA.

  3. NBA-Blog-A-Holic says:

    NO..!! Jordan Played against hand-checking and lane clogging zone (ala. Bad Boy Pistons and Knicks)
    Kobe can “can it” because he played against no-touch man-to-man, no zone and defensive 3-in-the-key

  4. $$$ says:

    Lang said it right: “baskets and dunks sell tickets”. That’s ALL David Stern cares about.

  5. hellon says:

    I agree,that nobody wants to see another Bad Boys,but come on.Trying to hurt players and playing physically are two different things.

  6. okc2014 says:

    I miss the old school Boston Celtic days….Larry Bird. Kevin McHale. Robert Parrish (chief), Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson (DJ).

  7. justsayin says:

    The body count is high enough these days – do we really want to promote more physical play?

    I mean there could be some tweaks sure – but we def don’t need to go back to letting muggings slide.

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    Much fairer now and much better to watch. I do think slightly more offensive fouls should be called though that’s a tough one especially without slow mo replays.

  9. JoeRocker says:

    I think the point is not that it’s easier to score, but that rules change have changed the way the game is played. With current rules, you want to drive the ball to the basket, and so you have a lot of guys driving and shooters on the perimeter, less post-based offense, and a lot of threes and run&gun. I think the Irvings and Harden of this wolrd would have done well in any era, but i dont like the fact that every team now plays small and shoots a lot of threes, i miss the midrange and the post game. And by the way, yes, some guys get to the line to easily, i think nobody misses the Houston-New York style of play, but we are on the opposite extreme now.
    I think current rules need at least some adjustment!

  10. Bill says:

    Two more things.

    It has long been a basketball play to get your man in the air and then have him foul you while you are attempting a shot. However, stop letting the offensive player inappropriately initiate the contact. What I mean is very often you see the defensive player go up and come down in front of the guy with the ball and then the offensive player lurches forward in a non shooting motion, hits the guy just standing there, and gets the foul. That is an unfair advantage to the offense and it isn’t any fun to watch.

    Another change that once again favors defense, I like that they are letting NBA big men have contact with drivers if they stay vertical. I didn’t like it when a player could literally jump right into a defensive player trying to guard him an virtually always get the call. Much better now.

  11. steppx says:

    No jeff caplan “We” dont all like offense. We like good basketball. Those rules ruined the NFL actually and they will ruin the NBA if they arent corrected. The bias in officiating is a worse concern, but maybe the new comish will address that. It is a soft league now. And it has created a generation of one dimensional players who work in isolation.

  12. Bill says:

    I think it is obvious that the NBA has made rule changes in an attempt to make their product more entertaining. As a fan, I get more enjoyment from watching a great offensive player than a Bill Laimbeer type thug. So overall I would say I like the changes.

    One change that was made actually hurt the offense, moving screens. It used to drive me crazy to watch screeners act like a pulling guard in football and I am glad that they are cleaning this up.

    I do want to chime in and say flagrant foul calls have become preposterous. Don’t get me wrong, I still remember McHale’s non-basketball play on Kurt Rambis in the finals, and that can’t be allowed, but these days you can’t grab a guy to prevent a lay up without a review for a flagrant foul. Stop it!

    Flopping continues to be a problem but now it is on both sides of the ball. I hate seeing big men flop, allow more offensive contact down low. A new development that is driving me crazy is jump shooters flopping. Watch a game and you see guys constantly falling down after they shoot trying to draw a foul. I am all for protecting a shooter from the dirty play of sliding under him thereby increasing his chance of turning an ankle but this has really gotten out of hand. The NBA need to start fining offensive floppers.

    • justsayin says:

      You know what else should be a fine or a technical? Pointing on out of bounds calls. It needs to end now. Even when it’s obvious whose possession it should be, every player in the league is a filthy effing liar as soon as that ball goes out of bounds.

      HEY PLAYERS! The ref didn’t ask – and we all lose respect for you every time we see your little attemps at cheating. It’s just as bad and irritating as flopping – so show some gd self respect. (and for the fans and refs too)