It’s that time of year again. NBA All-Star weekend is approaching. Where we all get to be subjected to a mediocre dunk contest, and an All-Star Game which’ll be more meaningless than the last.
This season has been interesting though. I say interesting because it’s not necessarily good or bad. Some record breaking stats are going to happen before seasons end.
Scoring is through the roof this year. The current league average is 112.4 points per game! That’s up from 105.8 last year.
To what is this attributed to?
Well, on average all NBA teams are shooting more three pointers, 63.4 per game to be exact. The Houston Rockets alone average 45 3’s per game, and because of the long distance shooting, possessions are also up to 103.2 per game.
All of this leads to my question. Is more scoring better basketball? Is the product the NBA is putting on TV a better product than it was 20 years ago?
The TV ratings would suggest that it isn’t. From last year, NBA ratings on ESPN are down 5%, and on TNT they are down 22%! The game of the week just lost to the brand new Alliance of American Football (AAF) in viewership.
How did this happen?
Much could be blamed for the poor product, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons. One main reason is LeBron is playing in the west. We all have our opinions of the NBA’s “chosen one”, but the fact is people watch him. With him being in LA, it’s harder for east coast fans to watch him that late at night.
Another reason is how uncompetitive the league has been recently. The last four NBA finals have been LeBron vs Golden State. The Warriors are literally so good, that the entire regular season is irrelevant.
It’s basically an Eastern Conference competition to see who gets to lose in the finals. You have the Warriors at the top, about four other decent teams, and then a bunch of work in progress franchises.
The final reason I’ll give is simple, modern pro basketball sucks to watch. Aside from a few highlight dunks and impressive shooting performances, it’s hard to tune in every night.
The average amount of free throws per NBA game is higher than it’s ever been at 49 per game. Nobody I know wants to watch teams shoot 49 free throws, and 64 three pointers. We would all rather catch the highlights that remove 90% of that.
Stat padding guys are taking advantage of the new freedom of movement rules, and blowing up the stat sheet. James Harden is averaging 36.6 points per game, with a usage rate of 39%. Kobe Bryant was called a “ball hog” for having a usage rate of 29% 15 years ago.
Remember when Triple Doubles were a big deal? Well now Russell Westbrook gets one every night because he chases fluff assists and garbage rebounds. This is the way the game is played now.
The CNN of sports (better known as ESPN), would not have you believe that the ratings are down. A $24 billion dollar television deal is mostly why they promote the NBA as if its better than ever. Why is it though?
Because it’s full of woke athletes who are more in to fashion than competition. Every guy in the league is best friends with each other now. They all date the same Instagram models, and hang out after games.
There are no rivalries, or battles anymore, just fake tough guys. Simply put, this is not your Dad’s NBA of the 80’s and 90’s.
In fact, the most drama the league has now is in the offseason. Where we find out which star will team up with another two or three stars to make the league even less competitive!
Through all of this, I think of one guy, LeBron James. He has changed the power structure within franchises, that gives more control to the players. They now choose where they play, who they play with, and who coaches them.
Lots of three pointers and free throws, poor officiating, non competitive games, and no defense. This is modern pro basketball, and the state of the NBA.
Meanwhile NFL ratings bounced back as kneeling players stood up, allowing pro football to reclaim America’s love. College basketball is also a better product than the NBA and I think this year’s tournament will be one of the best ever.
What can commissioner Adam Silver do to turn this around?
He should take a page out of the President’s book and “MAKE THE NBA GREAT AGAIN”