NBA State of Play – Rule Changes – Trends – CBA – Schedule Reform – Load Mgmt – etc

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The NBA is formally exploring how it might use its 75th anniversary season as an opportunity to test some of its bolder initiatives -- not only a mid-season cup and postseason play-in tournament, but also a reduction in the 82-game regular season schedule.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/27059802/sources-nba-talks-fewer-games-season-event

big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 16:45 (one year ago) link

really seems like theyd have a hard time convincing ownership to buy into any of that. but maybe just start simply but eliminating back to back games completely.

big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 16:51 (one year ago) link

f the owners players start their own coop league and institute all my beautiful ideas

lag∞n, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 16:52 (one year ago) link

Bill Simmons

It’s important to remember that they settled on 82 games for no real reason. The right number is 72 (play everyone twice + your conference one extra time). The ten extra games are about wear and tear and greed.

Go to 72 games, do a single elimination play-in tournament for the 7/8 seeds, make the first round Best of 5 but the 1-seeds get 1-2-4-5 at home, and stretch things out so the Conference Finals last 3 days longer so teams are more rested.

big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 17:54 (one year ago) link

It's greed. (good) teams will still make plenty of profit with 5 less home games, though I would feel bad for staff such as vendors, ushers etc. Personally I'd pay $5-10 more for a ticket if that's what it took to go to 72 games.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:02 (one year ago) link

This is why a players run league would never work:

I do NOT understand how and why Jeff Green keep signing these 1 year deals for the minimum. This is now 3 years in a row. He’s never injured, He’s never been a problem in the locker room, He’s athletic, he can shoot the 3, he can guard multiple positions and he’s not old 🤷🏾‍♂️.

— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 3, 2019

big city slam (Spottie), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 03:37 (one year ago) link

tbf the nba only figured out not to give jeff green big contracts 3 years ago

lag∞n, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 03:57 (one year ago) link

hmmm

Sources: The NBA Board of Governors have passed the implementation of in-game challenge flags for head coaches for the 2019-20 season.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 9, 2019

big city slam (Spottie), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 23:53 (one year ago) link

man no iggy no shaun end of an era

Sources: Warriors are waiving guard Shaun Livingston, who is guaranteed $2M of his $7.7M salary for season. Livingston, 33, is determined to continue playing and becomes one more valuable free agent candidate for contenders. He’s won three NBA titles and reached five Finals.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 10, 2019

lag∞n, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 00:53 (one year ago) link

rong thred

lag∞n, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 00:54 (one year ago) link

that shams tweet had me scared for a second that there was going to be a literal flag which would have been the worst thing in the world.

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 01:39 (one year ago) link

Should be just like football where they throw a beanbag on the floor in a snit.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 01:47 (one year ago) link

brad shd have to keep it in his sock to show proper respect to belichick

lag∞n, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 01:51 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

interesting 3than 5tr@u55 article here

https://theathletic.com/1276780/2019/10/10/the-nbas-dwindling-viewership-and-precarious-outreach-plans/

The NBA’s dwindling viewership and precarious outreach plans

By Ethan Strauss 7h ago 154
Every year, roughly a month before the season starts, the league’s beleaguered head coaches meet in Chicago and communicate directly with a source of their many woes. Most fans have never heard of the annual National Basketball Coaches Association meetings, but they are one of the NBA’s major rituals. All who can make the journey show up, mingle and speak with league officials on what rules are bound to govern their working lives. There are briefings, communication with referees and ultimately, a speech from the commissioner.

The annual speech isn’t available to the public, so it tends to contain franker messaging than you might find in Adam Silver’s news conferences. This year was no exception. While the NBA has publicly indicated that there’s been a dropoff in ratings, that message gets conveyed with subtlety. In person, with the coaches, Silver was blunt, according to sources at the meeting. Viewership is down, said the commissioner, down so significantly that he badly needs the help of the men present. They must do what it takes to aid the occasionally intrusive TV broadcasts, even if that means going outside their comfort zones.

This fits with a common push-pull dynamic behind the scenes of the league, where the NBA asks for more inside access from coaches who would prefer to jealously guard their focus and privacy. Coaches don’t just resent the feeling of being spied on by TV cameras; they fear the consequences. Once a communication with a player goes public, it opens them up to scrutiny, while changing the nature of how that message might get received.

For example, Steve Kerr and the Warriors were not happy when ABC captured and televised a private conversation the coach had with Kevin Durant in Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference finals. The speech from Kerr on how KD might learn from Michael Jordan’s playoff game foibles made for great television, but the last thing the Warriors wanted was a public showing of criticism toward KD, however constructive and however couched. Going forward, the league is hoping to forge a process that avoids such mishaps. Of course, with the continued cooperation of the coaches.

Coaches might not like Silver’s request for access, but they appreciate the manner in which it is communicated. Silver is seen as proactive and open-minded. Feedback is welcome, even if it isn’t always implemented.

“This guy gives out his phone number and tells us to call him!” one coach said, in disbelief. “David Stern would never do that.”

The previous commissioner’s old NBCA speeches did not welcome such participation, especially the one given in Chicago, shortly after the NBA had signed its 2007 national TV contract. According to multiple coaches who were there, Stern communicated the importance of the TV side having access to locker rooms. Then-Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles raised his hand and told Stern, after a preamble of “no disrespect,” that the locker room was his “sacred space.”

Based on multiple coaches’ retellings of this legendary league story, Stern dispatched the response with withering sarcasm.

“Well, let’s see,” the smiling commissioner began. “On the one hand, we have eight billion dollars from our broadcast partners. And on the other hand, we have … Scott Skiles!” Stern then lit into him, telling Skiles in so many words and curses to shut up and that he didn’t want to hear any more out of him. Skiles went quiet, as did the room.

“He was neutered,” one coach relayed of Skiles. “Scott thought he was brave. And after Stern was done with him, he wasn’t brave no more.” All the coaches in the room got the message. Commissioner Stern wasn’t asking. He was telling. And woe be unto whichever clipboard clinger flouted the dictate.

When asked about the incident recently, Skiles told The Athletic, “I no longer do interviews about basketball. But whatever you are referring to is completely false. The commissioner never went at me or anyone in a harsh manner. You’ve gotten incorrect info.” Last week, Stern himself said, “No recollection at all. Not denying.” Make of that what you will.

Fast-forward to this fall, when Silver didn’t blow a gasket on any coach in Chicago, but he could be forgiven for feeling the impulse. The modern NBA has many issues to sort out. They are well buoyed by a lucrative national television contract, signed at perhaps the height of the TV rights bubble, that grants the league an annual payment of $2.66 billion until 2024-2025. In the meantime, for all its coverage as a fun, modern league, the NBA’s TV ratings are sliding in the United States.

For so long, ascendance has been a dominant theme of NBA coverage. The league’s fans are so young, the sport’s never been more popular, etc. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar submitted one such example of this argument back in a December 2017 article for The Guardian titled, “The NBA, and not the NFL, is the league of America’s future.”

In it, he wrote, “This prediction has nothing to do with the athletes themselves, their level of skill, their heart, or their commitment to their sport. Professional athletes are generally the highest expression of what the human body is capable of doing and therefore inspiring to the fans to reach higher and strive harder. In that way, no sport is superior to any other sport. But when it comes to professional sports, some are more inspirational, more exciting and more entertaining to the general public than others and those sports take on a symbolic meaning for Americans. They come to represent our core values. They represent not just who we are, but who we want to be.”

Abdul-Jabbar said this at perhaps the height of NFL pessimism. The article came during a brief epoch of NFL ratings declines that happened concurrently with fans dividing into pro- and anti-Colin Kaepernick camps. The NFL has since rebounded from its swoon, seeing ratings gains last season and early this season. The Lakers legend could still be right in the end, but I suspect he’s wrong about a sport’s popularity reflecting a kind of noble aspiration.

The resilience of American football reminds of Warren Buffett’s investing strategy. Buffett has become the third-wealthiest person in the world while establishing stakes in Dairy Queen, See’s Candies and Coca-Cola, among other junk-food providers. In theory, these brands are behind the times and primed for a fall when an ever savvier population switches to the healthier diets they aspire to. In reality, human beings can’t get away so easily from their base instincts. In our inevitable weak moments, we will falter, furtively mainlining refined sugar in between Instagram posts of our gym workouts. Similarly, it appears the better angels of our nature cannot win out against the violence of football. The American population is drawn to the game on a visceral level, and no amount of “60 Minutes” stories on CTE will topple the nation’s favorite sport.

Meanwhile, it’s the NBA that’s struggled of late. If the NBA is “who we want to be,” then the American people are only so interested in our goals. It took a while for the league to hit a snag, to be sure. LeBron James saved the NBA from its post-Jordan nadir. Then he chose South Beach and became a compelling, ratings-friendly villain. His return to Cleveland mended broken hearts, concurrent with the Warriors’ rise. The latter dynamic fueled some of the best nationally televised ratings the league had seen since MJ.

While the Warriors’ dynastic run buoyed national TV ratings, many other teams saw declines locally. Based on the Sports Business Journal’s annual check-ups, in the 2014-15 season, 16 of 27 measured teams saw year-over-year declines in their local ratings. In the 2015-16 season, 17 of the 27 teams measured saw declines. In the 2016-17 season, local ratings dropped 14 percent overall. Those ratings bounced up 3 percent in 2017-18, only to fall back down 4 percent last season. It’s been a rough half-decade overall.

Recent playoffs paint a slightly prettier picture, though one almost completely propped up by the Warriors vs. LeBron and the Cavs dynamic. With LeBron’s Lakers missing the postseason, the first three rounds of last season’s playoffs saw a sharp 14-percent drop from the prior playoffs. Fortunately for the NBA, James will probably make the postseason cut this time, flanked by Anthony Davis. Unfortunately for the NBA, there are some less auspicious developments at play. Kyrie Irving left an ardently followed Celtics team in big-market Boston for a big market in Brooklyn that’s only ever yielded small-market viewership. Kevin Durant followed him there, and is out for the season. The Warriors, that dependable ratings machine, are a much worse team this season, with Klay Thompson recovering from an ACL tear. Historically hyped No. 1 pick Zion Williamson fell to New Orleans, one of the league’s smallest markets, rather than to the forever dormant Knicks.

It might sound like sacrilege, but it’s more than likely that the NBA is losing domestic popularity now and in the near term, despite its ever-sold narrative of a perpetual ascendance. Yes, the NBA is young, steeped in the social media zeitgeist and theoretically primed to take over when those other dusty sports die out. No, this dynamic isn’t yet resulting in demonstrable viewership growth in America.

What about cord-cutting?
Bring up the NBA’s ratings declines and someone might cite cord-cutting as an excuse. Aren’t all the leagues suffering? Yes and no. It’s more difficult to command big audiences in prime time than it was in the past, but certain sports have fared better than others. Baseball has seen recent ratings declines similar to the NBA, but, as previously mentioned, the NFL has seen viewership gains of late and college football has held steady.

For a quick and dirty comparison, look at average NBA Finals viewership over the years versus average Super Bowl viewership. In 1998, Michael Jordan’s last Finals registered as the most watched in NBA history, yielding an average viewership of 29 million. The best Finals viewership since Jordan happened in 2017, the year of Kareem’s article, when the Durant-led Warriors first took on LeBron’s Cavs. That Finals yielded an average viewership of 20.38 million. Impressive, but roughly down 9 million from that high in 1998. Keep in mind, the U.S. overall gained 50 million in population between 1998 and 2017.

For contemporaneous contrast, the January 1998 Super Bowl drew an average of 90 million viewers. Nearly two decades later, the February 2017 Super Bowl drew an average viewership of 111.3 million viewers. In short, the NFL has added 10s of millions in viewers to its championship since the 1990s, while the NBA has remained flat at best and dwindling at worst.

What about streaming?
Well, maybe the NBA, with all its millennial fans, suffers more from cord-cutting than the NFL. Perhaps all those people who used to watch games on TV are now watching games on other devices. The NBA usually casts such growth in relative terms. According to the league, digital viewership increased 47 percent versus last year.

Here’s the issue. While digital certainly is a growth market, the vast majority of people still prefer watching sports on traditional television. Streaming numbers are difficult to come by, but within North America, they are often not so impressive, compared to overall viewership. To cite a positive NBA stat, 15.9 million Canadians watched the Raptors win Game 6 of the NBA Finals on TSN. To give you a sense of how niche streaming can be, only 143,000 people viewed the TSN live stream for that same game. In other words, the televised Raptors Finals clincher had 111 times the audience of the livestreamed version. Given that conversion, it is highly doubtful that, in the U.S., TV ratings declines are being compensated for with digital gains.

Time zone effect
The league has admitted to a recent ratings drop, and it mostly attributes the decline to LeBron heading West, outside the preferable Eastern time zone. Silver explained, “Fifty percent of television households in this country are in the Eastern time zone. And so if your West Coast games start at 10:30 at night in the East, you’re invariably going to lose a lot of viewers around 11, 11:30. I mean, you can just chart it. You see how many television households turn off around 11:15, 11:30 at night, just because people have to get up for work in the morning.”

That explanation doesn’t quite explain everything, given the team James joined. The Lakers might be the league’s biggest brand. Their market includes not just Southern California, but Hawaii and Las Vegas as well. A superstar joining the Lakers shouldn’t be what tanks TV ratings.

Still, there’s something to the idea of correcting suboptimal game starts. Silver, in a proactive move, has gotten behind shaping the schedule to account for those pesky Pacific start times. The league has announced that nationally televised 10:30 starts have been reduced from 56 last season to 33 this one. The Lakers will go down from 19 nationally televised 10:30 starts to 10 in the upcoming season. We shall see if it works.

What about social media?
#NBATwitter is a thing. Much of the ascendence narrative comes with praise over how the league dominates social media platforms. One slight issue: Such dominance does not appear to gin up much interest in watching the actual games. The NBA sells games, not feuds between stars and not news of transactions. Games. You know, the contests Allen Iverson so desperately wanted us to talk about.

Perhaps all the off-court drama helps the NBA in some peripheral way, but it wouldn’t be so inconceivable to think that it’s hurting. As Pat Riley was fond of saying, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” Is the NBA doing that when so much of its coverage is devoted to something other than the games themselves?

Deus Ex MaChina
This all brings us to China, the country that currently threatens to wipe away massive sums of NBA money in response to one tweet from a general manager. For those who haven’t been tracking this ever unfolding international incident, Daryl Morey, GM of the Houston Rockets, retweeted an image with the words “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” in support of the semiautonomous territory’s months-long pro-democracy protests on Friday, just as the Rockets began a preseason trip to Asia. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta disavowed the tweet, himself tweeting, “Listen … @dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization.” Morey deleted his Hong Kong support retweet, but the incident did not end there.

On Sunday, the Chinese Basketball Association announced that it was suspending cooperation with the Rockets. Chinese companies pulled Rockets sponsorships. Tencent Holdings, the massive company that owns China’s online streaming rights to the NBA, announced that it was wiping the Rockets from its platforms. Tencent’s streaming deal, which hangs in the balance of this dispute, pays the NBA $1.5 billion over five years. Sunday night, the NBA released a statement stating, among other things, “We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.”

On Monday night, Steve Kerr was asked about the issue, to which the normally loquacious coach offered little comment, saying, “It’s a really bizarre international story. A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about like everybody is, but I’m not gonna comment further.” The no comment would come to be mocked by President Donald Trump in a press conference two days later.

On Tuesday, Silver gave a clarifying statement that supported Morey’s right to free expression. This happened the same day that Chinese broadcaster CCTV announced that it would not be airing the NBA’s upcoming preseason games in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

This hardly encapsulates all that has happened in the last half a week, and there’s surely more to come. The implications of the Morey affair are massive, touching everything from international politics to the outlook of the NBA’s BRI. It’s worth wondering how we got to such a fraught, precarious moment in the league’s history.

While domestic interest in the NBA flatlined, the NBA contented itself with chasing viewership abroad. The struggles of the post-Jordan era might have been distressing, but the NBA had this big, lucrative project that was sure to make up for it all and then some. Advertising the league’s popularity in Iowa was so drab and unrewarding when stacked against a magical megaphone that blasts the game out to a billion-plus.

Current events show that this plan, thought to be wondrously successful until about 15 minutes ago, included some significant risks. Morality issues aside, the NBA is dealing with a top-down authoritarian regime that can scuttle the entire arrangement in a blink. Just like that, all the NBA’s years of investment and planning can be wiped away. This has always been so, yet almost never discussed. Now we know. The NBA’s golden goose can ghost. No longterm plans based on China’s continued NBA involvement can be completely trusted.

Thanks to the squeaky wheel dynamic, coverage of this current standoff tends to focus on China, or as Nets owner Joe Tsai (who was born in Taiwan) put it, “the way hundreds of millions of Chinese NBA fans feel about what just happened.” Less often are we asked to consider how Americans might feel about this mess. All the coverage on the NBA’s delicate handling of China’s umbrage might miss a larger dynamic at play: The American public’s opinion has chilled on the country the league so ardently courts. When the NBA made its initial forays into the world’s second-largest market, the conventional wisdom was that this was yet another step toward China’s inevitable liberalism and general allyship with the United States. This hasn’t really happened, but NBA officials have followed the old script, endlessly broadcasting their China inroads as some form of higher diplomacy to an American public that sees little reason to swoon.

A Pew poll released on Aug. 13 detailed that only 26 percent of Americans conveyed a favorable view of China. This represented a steep drop from 2017, pre-trade war, when 44 percent of Americans conveyed a favorable view. From the Pew report, “Americans also increasingly see China as a threat. Around a quarter of Americans (24 percent) name China as the country or group that poses the greatest threat to the U.S. in the future, twice as many as said the same in 2007. China is tied with Russia (24 percent) as the country or group most cited as a threat to the U.S.” Keep in mind that this polling preceded this current controversy. The current numbers could easily be even less China-favorable.

America’s relationship with China is too complex to fully parse here, but both nations have recently caught and punished accused spies of the other. This is not, currently, the most harmonious dynamic between nations. The issue for the NBA is that trend lines suggest an escalation of tensions, not a relaxing. Donald Trump ran for president in 2016 on confronting China and the aforementioned polls suggest at the position’s popularity. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, perhaps Trump’s challenger in the upcoming 2020 election, has sharply criticized China in the past, most recently over Twitter per this particular incident. Based on the tweets of Democrat and Republican politicians alike, there was a bipartisan consensus of disgust directed toward the NBA in the immediate aftermath of this incident.

How sustainable is that dynamic going forward? Even if China, its bluff called by Silver, comes back to the NBA, there will likely be more issues. The Morey mishegoss might come and go, replaced by another news story, but what prevents another unforeseen international incident? Remember, this all happened over one deleted tweet.

There may be no fixing this. Even an improvised solution that immediately saves the NBA’s multibillion-dollar marriage to China could be doomed to inevitable failure based on the bigger dynamics at play.

So, if the league’s China relationship is inherently unstable, how does it recover? Does it look for the next superstar in India, as the New York Times suggested the NBA so desperately wants?

Perhaps the answer is in that room, back in Chicago. Much as the coaches might wince, mic’d up segments have the potential to gloriously augment the viewing experience. The NFL is, to borrow a phrase, light-years ahead of the NBA in that respect. The NBA’s domestic product, whether it be League Pass, NBA TV, or some of the postgame shows of its broadcast partners, needs to be sharper. Two decades of the NBA studying abroad has correlated with a lot of slack in its domestic TV products. Stateside, there’s not enough high-quality TV coverage that’s pertinent to the actual game, especially now that David Griffin has left the studio to run the Pelicans. The league would benefit from the kind of coverage that lets fans know that games are actually interesting.

In the meantime, in the aftermath of the Morey affair, the NBA needs to ambitiously grow the game at home as a bulwark against getting leveraged like it was in this incident. Other leagues have wrapped themselves in the American flag, for better or for worse perhaps, but these sports at least recognized where they were rooted and what domestic customers respond to. The NFL has a slickly produced series titled, “America’s Game.” It’s hard to envision the NBA ever doing that, even if the sport this nation nurtured has just as much a claim to the title.

The NBA has constantly advertised its ambitions beyond America. To be an NBA news consumer is to hear endlessly from the league on how they might conquer China, India and beyond, but little as to how basketball might become the favorite sport of its home country. Silver said, during the 2017 Finals, “It frustrates me that there are no Chinese players in the NBA right now,” adding, “There’s probably more basketball being played in China than anywhere else in the world. And more NBA basketball is being watched in China than anywhere else in the world.” Silver then went on to talk about consulting with Yao Ming on developing great Chinese international teams that might win big in future Olympics and World Cups. An understandable view from a corporate perspective perhaps, but a little strange to hear an American commissioner so openly pine for China’s success in the Olympics. One wonders if, based on the U.S. ratings, American customers can sense the National Basketball Association’s apathy towards its own nation.

There’s nothing bad about spreading the gospel of your sport beyond borders and receiving the privilege of players like Dirk Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Yao Ming inspiring fans here. Indeed, that’s all fantastic. The challenge is remaining solid within your sphere of immediate influence, growing within what you know. The challenge is keeping the main thing the main thing. When you’re embroiled in a conflict that’s 7,000 miles away, you couldn’t be farther from it.

de-mamba mentality (Spottie), Friday, 11 October 2019 02:47 (one year ago) link

The NBA's going to survive, even if ratings are down 15%. The owners, players and networks may not make as much off the sport as their greed would like, but if future rookie contracts and max contracts for all-stars have to take a 15% haircut and 'only' 17 million people watch the NBA Finals, then boo-fucking-hoo.

The business end of the sport only interests me in terms of competitive balance within the league. Whether the NBA conquers the world, signs a 40 billion dollar tv contract, and Zion becomes a billionaire or maybe just a half-billionaire is nothing I really care about. That's not hoops. That's just raw capitalism doing its maximum profits thing. Let me find my tiny violin so I can serenade them.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 11 October 2019 03:07 (one year ago) link

The combination of cable companies dropping RSNs and a moderate loss of China business would be rough

Matt Armstrong, Friday, 11 October 2019 17:27 (one year ago) link

From a fan’s perspective what we should worry about is a dramatic loss of revenue causing a lockout

Matt Armstrong, Friday, 11 October 2019 17:28 (one year ago) link

A lockout would have to wait until the next CBA was being negotiated, but aiui the ultimate basis of player compensation is a fixed percentage of league revenue, not a fixed dollar amount, so a lockout over decreased league revenue would seem to be illogical, unless the position of the owners was that they want a bigger share of the shrinking pie. If so, fuck 'em.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 11 October 2019 18:01 (one year ago) link

well that is what they would want, and i agree with your stance, but it’s not good news for all of us who enjoy watching basketball.

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 October 2019 19:53 (one year ago) link

The position would be that they’ve committed to contracts they can no longer pay

Matt Armstrong, Friday, 11 October 2019 21:26 (one year ago) link

I don't imagine revenues will fall to the extent that the owners would be unable to pay the cost of staying in business without abrogating their player contracts. But if keeping the doors open and the lights on required renegotiation of player contracts, then it would be smart for the player's union to do so, rather than kill the league altogether. A lockout almost certainly would be about the owners extracting terms favorable to themselves, not because the players insist of holding them to "contracts they can no longer pay".

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 12 October 2019 00:42 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

I like this but my twist would be to make *all* shooting fouls worth a single 2-point free throw, including "and ones" on made baskets. Since fouls are more common on 2-pointers than 3-pointers, that would further increase the expected value of 2's relative to 3's. https://t.co/dx2r7q5j5p

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 20, 2019

lag∞n, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 17:40 (one year ago) link

Todays column: Get rid of Nate Silver

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 17:41 (one year ago) link

i actually have to tip my hat to him here for going big

lag∞n, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 17:47 (one year ago) link

heres the hollinger article

Hollinger: The three-shot foul is a bad rule, badly enforced, with bad side effects— It needs to go

By John Hollinger 5h ago 138
When can we say an NBA rule change failed?

I can think of four potential reasons: When the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, when the officials have difficulty calling it correctly, when it encourages behavior it was originally designed to discourage, or when it takes the game in a worse direction.

In the case of the three-shot foul, we’re a perfect 4-for-4. It’s a bad rule, badly enforced, that encourages bad behavior and stylistic monotony.

The three-shot foul has been around almost as long as the 3-pointer itself. At first, it wasn’t a big deal – three-shot fouls were extremely rare. Two things changed that. First, players slowly realized that the three-shot penalty was a completely outsized response to a minor crime and modified their behavior accordingly – beginning with the exaggerated side leg kicks of Reggie Miller. This move, theoretically outlawed in 2012, remains a popular way of duping refs into a three-shot foul.

Worsening matters, recent points of emphasis from the league have made it illegal to breathe on shooters increased protection for shooters, essentially guaranteeing the shooter no contact from takeoff to landing, no matter how bizarre a path he took en route. That change, in particular, has brought on a barrage of three-shot fouls from shooters jumping forward and adjusting their landing point to collide into a closing defender, or dangling legs at the last minute, hoping to catch a body.

It’s not just James Harden either. Here’s Bryn Forbes, for instance, coming to a nice controlled stop in transition and then suddenly vaulting forward on his shot and jackknifing his legs so they can catch Kevin Huerter.

If you want more examples, believe me, I have them.

My modest proposal is that the league goes back to a two-shot foul penalty for the first 46 minutes of the game. In the last two minutes, when several other minor rules also change, it can keep the three-shot foul to prevent egregious intentional fouling by teams with three-point leads.

Why would this improve the game? Let’s go through the weaknesses, one by one.

Penalty doesn’t fit the crime
This is by far my biggest gripe, and it’s a crucial component to understanding every other reason the three-shot foul is awful. I don’t think a lot of people fully understand how absurdly rich the 3-shot reward is for a common shooting foul.

Pardon me while I take you through some my math. It won’t be terrible, I promise.

First things first — 3-pointers barely produce any more points than 2-pointers, on average. The league hits 35.2 percent of its 3s and 52.0 percent of its 2s last season, meaning both shots produced nearly identical expected returns – 1.04 points for 2s, 1.06 points for 3s.

From that perspective, giving an additional shot for a shooting foul on a 3-pointer compared to a 2-pointer makes no sense — the shooter wasn’t likely to score more points on the initial shot.

But the return on a shooting foul for these types is now radically different. Using league averages, the expected return on a 3-shot foul is 2.33 points – three times the league average free throw rate (76.6 percent), plus a small dollop for the possibility of an offensive board on a missed third shot. (Only about 11 percent of missed free throws are rebounded by the offense, and only 23.9 percent of them are missed in the first place. Ballpark the average ROI on an offensive board is 1.2 points, leading to whopping 0.03 point increase. In reality, teams try much harder on the offensive glass when awful foul shooters are at the line, but we’ll ignore that for the sake of methodological clarity here).

That contrasts with 1.56 points on a two-shot foul.

In reality, the ROI on a 3-shot foul is even better because of who draws those fouls. News flash: Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard aren’t getting fouled shooting 3s. Only threatening 3-point shooters draw these whistles, and most of them are very good free-throw shooters too. Additionally, second and third free throws convert at a slightly better than than the first one. As ESPN’s Kevin Pelton recently reported, players league-wide shot 87.1 percent on the third shot of a three-shot foul last season, compared to just 80 percent on the first attempt.

As a result, the expected ROI on 3-shot fouls isn’t 2.33 points, it’s actually more like 2.56 … a full point higher than the two-shot foul.

In fact, check this out: That return on a three-shot foul is so excessive that, on average, committing one is about as bad as committing a flagrant! The second shot on a flagrant can’t be rebounded, so the two shots on average are worth 1.53 points for the offense. The team then inbounds on a dead ball, which is the lowest efficiency initial condition for offense – yielding 1.07 points per possession last season, according to our Seth Partnow. That brings our total for the trip to 2.60 points.

So a three-shot foul hands the offense 2.56 points on average … and a flagrant gives it 2.60. It’s basically the same. Yikes.

To see how extreme a penalty it is, however, you need to understand not just the absolute value, but also the marginal value. A typical possession was worth 1.10 points in 2018-19 (I will use last year’s numbers for this exercise given the early stage of the season). As noted above, the average two-point shot was worth 1.04 (the league shot 52.0 percent on 2s), and an average 3-point shot was worth 1.06 (the league shot 35.3 percent on 3s). Offensive boards added an additional 0.13 points to the expectation on 2s and 0.18 on 3s. So that’s a marginal value of 0.07 points for a 2 (1.04+0.13-1.10), and 0.14 points for a 3 (1.06 + 0.18 – 1.10).

But a three-shot foul? Not only does it more than double the value of a possession, from 1.10 points to 2.56 points, but also its marginal value of 1.56 points dwarfs that of common fouls. Let’s see here how a 3-shot foul changes things:

Marginal value of shot types, 2018-19
Three-shot foul 1.56
Two-shot foul 0.46
Average three-point attempt 0.14
Average two-point attempt 0.07
A two-shot foul produces a 0.39-point marginal return relative to just letting the guy shoot. That’s a fair penalty. The return on a three-shot foul, however, is 1.42 — nearly FOUR TIMES as much.

Again, the outsized penalty is a huge reason for this rule’s awfulness, because it influences all kinds of other behavior. A lot of it is subtle — for instance, here’s Damian Lillard with an attempt he would never consider if it weren’t for the fact that he might get three shots. Certainly he’s not trying to make a 3-point shot here.

This happens a lot, actually. A huge chunk of three-shot fouls are the result of players playing against the rules rather than the opponent — either guards like Lillard leaning into an ugly heave after turning the corner on a screen, or catch-and-shoot specialists kicking a leg out to reach out and tag a defender. Maybe he doesn’t get the call every time, but it’s the outsized return that makes the attempt worth the investment.

And here’s the beautiful basketball that same play yields when it doesn’t work:

It even impacts areas you wouldn’t consider — such as the coach’s challenge. From an ROI basis, far and away the best use of it is to challenge a leg-kick three-shot foul and turn 2.56 points into an offensive foul — to the point that coaches should probably save their challenge for three quarters in case one of these comes up.

More contact, not less
Because of the outsized return on 3-shot fouls, and that players KNOW about the outsize return, they’ve modified their behavior accordingly. Rather than avoid collisions when they rise up for a jumper, smart players seek it out. As a result, a mission designed to protect shooters and reduce contact (and hopefully injuries) has had the unintended consequence of increasing it. Several players — not even elite ones — have quickly adopted the habit of kicking their non-shooting leg out and forward in hopes of attracting a three-shot foul, creating conditions for ankle sprains rather than removing them. It’s exactly what the league was originally trying to prevent.

It’s remarkable to see how much players’ behavior changes on 3-point jump shots versus two-point jump shots. The clip above with Forbes is a great example, but it’s not hard to find others. In fact, it’s not hard to find them with Bryn Forbes (or any other volume 3-point shooter, for that matter) … and you can actually see it the most in clips where players aren’t fouled. Here is Forbes searching out contact with his right leg, hoping he can tag Terrence Ferguson and create a 3-shot collision.

For a more egregious example, here is T.J. Warren’s submission into the pantheon, just praying he can get a piece of Cedi Osman with his right leg:

Now that you’ve seen it NOT work, here’s what it looks like when it does. Kelly Oubre was awarded three shots for this bit of ridiculousness:

More subtly, here’s Kemba Walker rising up with his left leg well behind him and behind the 3-point line. George Hill’s feet never totally cross the 3-point line, yet somehow “foul” Kemba’s left leg by being in position to receive Kemba’s love tap. For a right-handed shooter, this is, um, not natural:

For a more common example, it’s possible James Harden would have been fouled on this play by Dillon Brooks anyway, but he sticks out his left leg to make sure of it.

OK, fine, let’s talk about Harden
In particular, his left leg. Here’s another one. In real time it looks like Jimmy Butler annihilated him. Zapruder it and you see Harden rise up for a normal shot before he sees Butler and plays tag with his left leg.

And again, more blatantly, here he gets the Nets’ Taurean Prince with a piece of extended-leg absurdity only highlighted by Brooklyn’s monochrome court palette.

Finally, let’s give credit where it’s due. Shout out to Tyler Ford, who nabbed Harden here on his leg kick. Not all heroes wear capes. I don’t think it’s an accident that he made the call from behind the play and a bit away from it — the ref on the sideline is actually too close to see both the hands and feet of the shooter. More on that in a minute.

The Refs can’t call it correctly
Another unintended consequence of the three-shot foul is that it highlights how awful the officials are at calling it. It’s not their fault — it has to do with their position on the court and the impossibility of what’s asked of them.

We’re giving a huge reward on a play where a significant portion of the calls are just flat-out wrong.

You think I’m just going to pull more Harden clips? Think again. Here’s our very first three-shot foul of the season, an egregious leg kick by New Orleans’ Kenrich Williams that should have been an offensive foul (if not a flagrant); the dude basically tripped Pascal Siakam in midair.

Sideways leg kicks by shooters are very difficult for officials to see due to the geography of the court. We don’t want officials standing in the middle of it, for good reason. But most 3-point attempts either come from the corner, or from the top of the key — the two places an official standing at the coach’s box is mostly like to be looking from a straight-on vantage point. That gives them little to no depth perception to see if a leg is kicked sideways or straight out, making them suckers for preying shooters. We can’t always see it from the camera angle, either.

Props to Eric Dahlen, who missed the Williams call above but nails Forbes with the left leg maneuver on a very difficult to see call here:

The other issue that comes up is that sometimes the officials are too close, particular on wing 3-point attempts. They can’t possibly be looking at both hands and feet when the players are right on top of them, so they have to guess. Here’s a clip where Tom Washington ends up with both the shooter and defender right in his lap and essentially has to blindly extrapolate whether the shooter’s leg got clipped. Combined with Harden’s left-leg voodoo, you can guess the result.

Before we finish, I should point out something else — I’m only pointing out one kind of error in these clips. Officials also struggle to correctly identify three-shot fouls for some of the same reasons I’ve listed above, something the Rockets outlined last spring before the Golden State series in their Magna Gripe-a missive to the league office. Again, these are huge calls (or misses) because the penalty is so severe.

Is this the game you want?
Hey, all you midrange jumper fans — now is your chance to chime in. All we’ve done with the three-shot foul is further incentivize every single team to tilt even more toward the same monolithic outcome of spreading the floor and shooting a ton of catch-and-shoot 3s.

With defenses disincentivized from challenging the shot, and the occasional super bonus of a 3-shot foul juicing expected returns from the strategy, teams would be crazy NOT to go in that direction. Anybody who wants to see some stylistic distinctions left in this league should at least be thinking about how to favor the 3-point shot a bit less. Changing the three-shot foul is one obvious, lightly intrusive means.

So, summing it all up: The three-shot foul creates a massively disproportionate penalty to the crime committed, on a play type that officials have difficulty calling correctly. It also likely creates more contact and injury potential rather than reducing it, and incentivizes both boorish behavior and stylistic monotony that make the game less entertaining. The league can go back to three shots in the final two minutes to eliminate intentional fouling incentives late in games; we already have several other rules that change in the last two minutes.

But for the first 46 minutes, it’s clearly a bad rule. And if you still don’t think so, let me leave you with this magical piece of basketball from Trae Young as my parting gift:

Simply changing it to a two-short foul would eliminate a lot of the worst incentives and cheap foul-hunting, while also introducing a more fair penalty for a shot that isn’t any more valuable than 2-pointer at the time of release.

The three-shot foul stinks. It’s time for it to go.

lag∞n, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 17:47 (one year ago) link

thats really good

de-mamba mentality (Spottie), Wednesday, 20 November 2019 19:08 (one year ago) link

agree 100%

micah, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 22:48 (one year ago) link

twolves announcers were talking about this 3pt 2ft thing during todays game

micah, Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:56 (one year ago) link

2ft is far too close for the 3pt line

EZ Snappin, Thursday, 21 November 2019 18:47 (one year ago) link

all for conferenceless playoffs but the in season tourney just seems like a novelty to distract from the fact that individual regular season games dont matter, they shd fix that fundamental problem

lag∞n, Saturday, 23 November 2019 18:05 (one year ago) link

yeah not in favor of the tournament thing

the most important reason to go to the single 2-pt foul shot is to eliminate the lamest part of the game, which is the dead time between free throws and the high fives. very against the high fives

k3vin k., Saturday, 23 November 2019 18:16 (one year ago) link

the high fives suck

lag∞n, Saturday, 23 November 2019 18:19 (one year ago) link

nfl teams play 16 games a year and make way more money than the nba, the march madness tv contract is bigger than the entire nba contract, nba shd think about these things

lag∞n, Saturday, 23 November 2019 18:20 (one year ago) link

scarcity creates ~value~ heads up

Clay, Saturday, 23 November 2019 20:38 (one year ago) link

The NFL plays as many games as they can without the average career length being 2 years

Matt Armstrong, Sunday, 24 November 2019 04:01 (one year ago) link

yeah I'm not sure the two are really comparable

k3vin k., Sunday, 24 November 2019 04:38 (one year ago) link

after reading more about the proposal I think I hate everything about it

k3vin k., Monday, 25 November 2019 02:51 (one year ago) link

it's really telling that their brilliant ideas actually result in a scenario where some teams might play *more* than 82 games.

call all destroyer, Monday, 25 November 2019 02:56 (one year ago) link

there's not much to say about the in-season tournament idea other than it's a really stupid idea that no one will care about. bill simmons couldn't have even thought of this

the play-in games basically risk a 10 seed potentially advancing over a 7 seed with something like 10 more regular season wins, which makes me wonder what the point of the regular season is. it could encourage resting. and then you could have a 9 or 10 seed playing a 1 seed and making the first round even worse

the reseeding is a good idea but they should just do it 1-16

k3vin k., Monday, 25 November 2019 02:58 (one year ago) link

they're just throwing darts because they can't fathom that fewer games is the solution

call all destroyer, Monday, 25 November 2019 03:01 (one year ago) link

why does there have to be any solution? I know viewership is down this year but hadn't the league been doing great? have they considered that maybe it's temporary because the warriors suck and 2 of the 5 best players in the league are injured?

k3vin k., Monday, 25 November 2019 03:15 (one year ago) link

not really a ratings guy but i would think that the two LA teams being good would mean the league had higher hopes for this year than what they're currently getting. i thought i heard that local broadcast ratings are down all over the place so it's not just national showcase games. while they're in the current round of tv contracts they will be doing great. problem comes when they need to renew in a couple years if ratings still aren't strong.

regardless of ratings, seems like we're hitting a crest of dissatisfaction with the 82-game schedule. the nba is more or less proposing to shuffle it which makes no sense to me. the midseason tournament is inane, i can't believe they're actually putting it out there.

call all destroyer, Monday, 25 November 2019 03:32 (one year ago) link

also "load management" is al over the media, not great press!

lag∞n, Monday, 25 November 2019 03:38 (one year ago) link

xp it’s actually bad that both of the Los Angeles teams are really good because East Coast markets don’t watch West Coast games

i'm not a government man; i'm a government, man. (m bison), Monday, 25 November 2019 14:21 (one year ago) link

Bill Simmons was 1st guy I heard talk about midseason tourney

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 25 November 2019 16:30 (one year ago) link

yeah

lag∞n, Monday, 25 November 2019 16:45 (one year ago) link

wasn't the original simmons plan to do a tourney for the 8th seed?

call all destroyer, Monday, 25 November 2019 16:48 (one year ago) link

makes me wonder what the point of the regular season is

i think this about most american sports, tbh

gbx, Monday, 25 November 2019 16:50 (one year ago) link

come back to Vancouver NBA (silver reads this thread right)

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:23 (three months ago) link

NASHVILLE

the serious avant-garde universalist right now (forksclovetofu), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:39 (three months ago) link

wonder what the nba looks for in an expansion city, a state of the art arena is obvs at the top of the list but past that im not sure, there must be some demographic profile or whatever

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 20:45 (three months ago) link

im assuming vegas has the arena considering they just got a hockey team

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 20:49 (three months ago) link

growing population and not a declining one

J0rdan S., Friday, 8 January 2021 20:55 (three months ago) link

just throw another on in LA

a nice controlled drift (Spottie), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:56 (three months ago) link

from listening to various podcasts the main thing is having an ownership group who is willing/able to pay the money for a team and bring it to city x. kansas city built a nice arena some years ago hoping it would attract a team but no billionaire was inclined to take a team there

J0rdan S., Friday, 8 January 2021 20:57 (three months ago) link

wld think you could always find someone to buy in but i guess not

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 20:59 (three months ago) link

lot easier to find a buyer for something turnkey but starting from scratch is a whole different beast.

a nice controlled drift (Spottie), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:03 (three months ago) link

The municipality should buy the team imo, Seattle could float a bond measure to pay the expansion fee and it’d probably pass lol

Canon in Deez (silby), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:06 (three months ago) link

otm

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:07 (three months ago) link

they mayor should be the gm and get voted out if they suck

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:07 (three months ago) link

wonder what the nba looks for in an expansion city, a state of the art arena is obvs at the top of the list but past that im not sure, there must be some demographic profile or whatever

― lag∞n, Friday, January 8, 2021 3:45 PM (twenty-five minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

basically-- nba-ready arena, the type of economy that can fill luxury boxes, and someone with 2 billion dollars who wants a team there.

call all destroyer, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:12 (three months ago) link

they should pass a law called "bezos give us $2.5B in sonic bucks or we blow your head off"

trans-panda express (m bison), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:12 (three months ago) link

tampa is the largest market w/o an nba team incl seattle fyi. but they have that dgaf florida fanbase so idk.

trans-panda express (m bison), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:13 (three months ago) link

they should pass a law called "bezos give us $2.5B in sonic bucks or we blow your head off"

― trans-panda express (m bison), Friday, January 8, 2021 4:12 PM (six minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

put it on the ballot

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:19 (three months ago) link

w/ OKC i heard it explained as like... they got a team bcuz clay bennett's ownership group had the money to buy a team and wanted to put it in OKC & stern decided to make it happen. but it's not like OKC was identified as the single most desired location for a new NBA team

J0rdan S., Friday, 8 January 2021 21:21 (three months ago) link

didnt he promise not to move them to okc at some point

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:23 (three months ago) link

yeah clay bennett and the okc business community really put on the full-court press to get a team. they had the track record of the hornets season there which could have helped selling the nba on okc as a good market. also it's one of those places with more money than ppl think.

call all destroyer, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:31 (three months ago) link

sorta indifferent-to-against expansion but seattle and vegas would be cool

k3vin k., Friday, 8 January 2021 23:19 (three months ago) link

yeah im prob against expansion for expansions sake but seattle 500% needs a team and might as well do another to keep the numbers even

lag∞n, Friday, 8 January 2021 23:29 (three months ago) link

my opinion is that more teams is good

trans-panda express (m bison), Friday, 8 January 2021 23:59 (three months ago) link

more teams = more hoops = more 2 luv

trans-panda express (m bison), Friday, 8 January 2021 23:59 (three months ago) link

nah man it's all about the product

k3vin k., Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:00 (three months ago) link

have u considered that maybe quantity IS better than quality?

trans-panda express (m bison), Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:00 (three months ago) link

lol

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:00 (three months ago) link

idk for sickos like us the worst days of the week are like the tuesdays and saturdays when there's no good games and diluting the talent pool more doesn't really solve that does it?

k3vin k., Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:02 (three months ago) link

too many lame franchises in places that dont really care about them already

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:03 (three months ago) link

moving would be a much better solution than expanding.

call all destroyer, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:03 (three months ago) link

yeah but the nbas not going to force anyones hand

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:04 (three months ago) link

they can just makes new teams tho

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:05 (three months ago) link

u need 2 read more about MMT (modern make-more-teams theory or just make more teams or MMT 4 short)

trans-panda express (m bison), Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:14 (three months ago) link

lol

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:14 (three months ago) link

u, a 20th century bird brain: more teams will dilute the talent pool
me, a 22nd century time traveling superstar: more teams = more hoops fans = more future talent

checkmate

trans-panda express (m bison), Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:15 (three months ago) link

lol

k3vin k., Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:19 (three months ago) link

will probably also mean league pass prices go up $_$

k3vin k., Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:19 (three months ago) link

all of yall criminals stream illegally anyway

trans-panda express (m bison), Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:20 (three months ago) link

we have already established that silver reads our threads (adam, hello) so please do not out our community as thieves who should be in jail

Clay, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:10 (three months ago) link

anyways i am up for expansion if the teams are out west where there are not enough teams and i don't care much about "dilution" there's 30 very good basketball players out there i guarantee this

Clay, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:10 (three months ago) link

if were to accidentally click on an internet link and an nba game should play in the background while im going about my day i can hardly be blamed

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:11 (three months ago) link

very troubling to learn today during these difficult times that our beloved mob is in fact a sworn officer of the peace aka a police officer

Clay, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:14 (three months ago) link

*mod sure but i believe we call that a "freudian slip"

Clay, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:15 (three months ago) link

lol

call all destroyer, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:16 (three months ago) link

i just believe v strongly in supporting the arts, and if u download hoops illegally u r making it harder for hoopers to feed their families

trans-panda express (m bison), Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:17 (three months ago) link

all of yall criminals stream illegally anyway

― trans-panda express (m bison), Friday, January 8, 2021 7:20 PM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

one of the most embarrassing facts about myself is that I have paid for league pass for like 10 straight years now

k3vin k., Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:33 (three months ago) link

paid version is def a superior experience

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:35 (three months ago) link

i've paid for like 5 years now, i have no patience for sketchy streams

call all destroyer, Saturday, 9 January 2021 01:36 (three months ago) link

I miss ballstreams but alas it was too good to be true

a nice controlled drift (Spottie), Saturday, 9 January 2021 03:08 (three months ago) link

its true that was a good site

lag∞n, Saturday, 9 January 2021 03:11 (three months ago) link

balls tream

k3vin k., Saturday, 9 January 2021 13:16 (three months ago) link


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