How the NBA Sped Up

Just a phenomenal article is linked below as as ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz and Kevin Pelton dive into how exactly the NBA went from a slog-fest in the late 90’s/early 2000’s to the breakneck pace and 3-point barrage that comprise the modern game. Mike D’Antoni’s “7 Seconds or Less” Phoenix teams get their deserved acclaim in here as well as the analytics movement, as well as the rule changes that eliminated hand-checking and instituted the “defensive 3-second” rule. There is a ton of good stuff in here including Pelton’s notes on various trends in the NBA game, Alvin Gentry’s scrimmaging rules, when Steve Nash first recognized how fast Phoenix was going to play under D’Antoni, the pragmatic way D’Antoni stumbled upon his up-tempo attack, and the power of the transition 3.

“In a fast system, your shot is predicated by how the defense is playing or how aggressive you are, not on a set play,” says Channing Frye, who played on Gentry’s Phoenix teams. “Steve [Nash] would know within the first five minutes, ‘OK, that’s a show. So that’s an automatic roll. Now we’ll put this shooter right here.’ Whenever there’s a trigger, Steve or whoever it is will make the right play. The ball will find energy. That was a big D’Antoni thing and became a big Alvin thing. And it’s definitely a big player thing. Players want to be rewarded for bringing energy.”


For more on the NBA transition game:
-Alvin Gentry clinic notes (LINK)
-Mike D’Antoni clinic notes (LINK)
-Move it or die: The NBA’s ball-movement revolution (LINK)
-The NBA’s 35-year war over the 3-pointer (LINK)

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