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The Lo-Down: NBA offenses are scoring more points — is that a good thing?

Luka Dončić, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and Stephen Curry; what do all those names have in common? In the span of the last three weeks, they’ve each scored at least 60 points in just one game. As of late, it feels like offenses are simply unfair and the league’s top players can just step on the court, choose a number and score that many points at will. But is any of that true? And if it is, is it a bad thing for the NBA?

Individual offensive explosions have been the biggest point of contention, as any player in today’s era can seemingly come in and give you a minimum of 20 or 30 points on any given night. This is even more evident in the scoring averages of the top players, as there are 46 players currently averaging 20 or more points per game; just 10 years ago, in the 2014-15 season, there were just 15 such players.

However, there are many philosophical differences between how the top scorers got to their buckets 10 years ago versus now. The most obvious example of this is 3-point shooting. The simple math behind “three is greater than two” is sound, and makes up for the slight drop in efficiency on these longer jump shots. In 2014-15, the highest-volume outside shooter, Stephen Curry, only shot 8.1 3-point attempts per game.

From that season onward, Curry and the dynasty Warriors would lead an offensive revolution, changing the math and dimensions of the game and stretching defenses beyond their limits, forcing adaptations on the opposing side of the floor to just keep up with the pace and volume that shots were coming from in this outside-scoring revolution.

Curry’s league-leading 8.1 3-point attempts back in 2014-15 would rank him 13th in the league today. This record volume from outside sweeping the league has opened up the interior as well, as driving lanes are more open than ever.

Currently, there are 12 players averaging 15 or more drives per game, with the top spot held by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at 23.4 drives per game. Back in 2014-15, that number of players stood at just four.

Is this a bad thing, though? If it is, what can be done? Offenses are pushing the boundaries of both pace and the space that you can generate from outside shooting. The league has learned to optimize the game’s highest-value shots, and defenses can only hope to keep up. 

I don’t believe this offensive explosion is a bad thing. For the casual fans, points are good, and the pace keeps an audience with a rapidly declining attention span engaged. However, if there was intent to give defenses more of a fighting chance within the league’s offices, there is one idea that could work.

The NBA’s defensive three-second rule keeps defenders out of the painted area for elongated spans of time. If a defender has two feet inside this central area for more than three seconds, their team receives a technical foul, resulting in a free throw and possession for the offensive team. 

Removing this entirely would allow players to defend the paint much easier, keeping driving lanes relatively shut off and preventing defensive shooting fouls from players trying to fly across the court to contest a shot at the rim. 

It wouldn’t stop offenses altogether, and players would certainly find ways to score inside the paint, but there is reason to believe eliminating the rule would allow for more defensive freedom. However, whether or not more defensive freedom is actually necessary is entirely up to you — the viewer — to decide.

Logan Adams is a sophomore studying journalism. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Logan know by tweeting him @LoganA_NBA.

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