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.
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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.com: I 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.com: Sure 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.
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.com: If 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.com: If 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!