golden age or favoring attackers?

Author of 71 points last night against the Bulls, Donovan Mitchell released the biggest scoring performance since Kobe Bryant’s famous 81 points in 2006. Therefore, a rare performance, but part of a record season in terms of benefits of individual and marking. Which raises the following question: are we living in a golden age, or an age where attackers are more favored?

71 points for Donovan Mitchell. 60 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists for Luka Doncic. 54 points for Klay Thompson. 45 points, 22 rebounds for Giannis Antetokounmpo. 47 points for LeBron James on his 38th birthday. 40 points, 27 rebounds, 10 assists for Nikola Jokic.

These are some of the incredible NBA performances that have marked our nights over the past two weeks. Two weeks of all-time performance and statistical madness, which obviously delights the TTFL players but also… raises questions about the general direction the League is taking in terms of play and especially the attack-defence balance.

The numbers speak for themselves: the 2022-23 season was the highest-scoring in the modern era (post 1960s), with 113.7 units scored per team per night. The current campaign also sets the all-time record for offensive efficiency (113.5 points per 100 possessions), and is the 10 best in team history through all dates from the 2020-23 season. ! So we’re now progressing into an era where offense is king, where scores once reserved for the All-Star Games are now the norm in the regular season.

Several elements explain this offensive explosion that characterizes the NBA in 2020. Today’s American basketball is a basketball where the game is fast (which therefore has many possessions) and very open, where freedom of movement is more privileged in the physical aspect, and where the 3-point shot – which has gained a prominent place since the arrival of Stephen Curry’s Warriors in the mid-2010s – opens up a lot of space for attackers. In that context, the defense seems out of place, at least in the regular season. (in the Playoffs it’s not quite the same). Today’s NBA rules greatly limit the power of defenders when they are man-to-man, and therefore the overall level of intensity that can be seen every night.

“The game in Europe is more difficult than the NBA. Obviously there is more talent in the NBA but there are also more spaces. In Europe everything is more intense. All-terrain defense, team-up, all-terrain zone, man-to-man defense. Everyone is playing more physical on defense.

– Giannis Antetokounmpo

All that to say that the current attackers are changing in a very good context to show their skills and scoring qualities. Kevin Durant – one of the best forwards of all-time – said it himself: “Scoring 30 points today is easier than 15 years ago”. It is perhaps mainly for that if we have 5 players with at least 30 pawns per match this season – which has not happened since the legendary campaign of 1961-62 – and we now have 13 performances of at least 50 units this year.

Top 5 NBA scorers in 2022-23 (via ESPN)

Far be it from us to be silly and discount the performance of current players, or to question the talent that characterizes the NBA today. The Great League is full of superstars who deserve their status, perhaps never been richer when it comes to skills, we see more and more freaks pushing the limits of basketball with their versatility, and the attacks clearly gained intelligence. But when it comes to comparing current statistical performances with the past, to discuss the level of current scorers in previous decades, it seems important to consider the context where his perfs fit right now.

This NBA focused offensive show, with insane statistics as well as more often than not individual and collective records is clearly good for the business of the Great League, but we can still wonder if the continued search for this show is leading to the very essence. of the game. is lower in open house mode. Where the NBA offers something other than 120 or 130 point games every night. Where the 50 pawn offensive card was a rarity that we celebrated, rather than an exploit among others that we forgot about the next day.

Today’s NBA is full of phenomena that set our nights on fire with their massive performances. Performances that you need to know how to appreciate at the moment T, but also intensify by zooming out a little and taking into account the current context that undoubtedly favors offensive explosions.

Stat sources: Basket-Reference,, StatMuse

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