The Brooklyn Nets are 1 of only 6 NBA teams scoring at a lesser pace than they did last season as a new age of offense is exploding in front of our eyes.
The Brooklyn Nets are scoring at roughly the same pace in the early going this season as they did in 2017-18, averaging 106.3 points per game in their first three games. In the new NBA, where points are exploding all over the place, that pushes the Nets way down the offensive hierarchy.
Last season, Brooklyn averaged 106.6 points per game — slightly higher than the league average of 106.3 points per team per game — and were tied for 13th in the NBA in scoring.
All things being equal, a dip of just 0.3 points per game should leave things basically the same.
But in the NBA circa 2018-19, all things are not equal. Through the first eight days of action, teams are averaging 113.4 points per game — more than seven more than a season ago. That leaves the Nets’ 106.3 mark just 25th in the league right now.
It’s early and the small sample size rule is definitely in effect. But scoring has spiked in the early going. In eight days, two teams have already reached at least 140 points in non-overtime games.
- New Orleans Pelicans, 149 (Oct. 19 vs. Sacramento)
- Dallas Mavericks, 140 (Oct. 20 vs. Minnesota)
In all of the 2017-18 season, teams scored 140 or more just eight times, with the Golden State Warriors turning the trick three times and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets each doing it once.
For fans raised on the 78-75 games that dominated much of the late 1990s and continued into the early 21st century, this has to be a shock to the system.
As a fan who was raised in the defense-completely-optional 1970s and matured into the free-flowing motion offenses of the 1980s, this is a blast.
For the record, the last time Brooklyn hit the 140 mark in 48 minutes was in 2016-17, when they did it twice — a 143-114 win at New Orleans on Jan. 20, 2017, and a 141-118 win on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 4, 2017.
That season, there were also eight games of 140 or more in the NBA, up from only two in 2015-16, which was up from one in 2014-15.
We’re still less than a decade removed from the last season in which no team topped that mark — 2011-12, information gleaned from Basketball-Reference.com‘s terrific Play Index.
The points are coming from more teams embracing the offensive philosophies of the teams that have been successful of late — the Warriors primarily — or modeling the Rockets’ once-radical line of thinking that corner 3s were much, much more valuable than long 2s of the same distance.
The Nets certainly have the necessary tools to get out of the current group of six teams actually scoring less than they averaged last season, a group that includes the Boston Celtics (down 5.2 points per game), the Warriors (down 0.2), the Los Angeles Clippers (down 1.5), the Thunder (down 3.9) and the Orlando Magic (down 3.4).
Per Stats.NBA.com, no team in the NBA is driving more often than Brooklyn, which has averaged 56.3 drives per game thus far. Those drives are generating 25.7 shots per game, which the Nets are converting at a 55.8 percent rate (also tops in the league).
The problem has been (stop me if you’ve heard this before) turning the ball over. On those drives, the Nets have turned the ball over 12.4 percent of the time — averaging seven turnovers per game just on drives to the basket.
And that’s where the improvement will come from. Brooklyn isn’t going to average 20 turnovers per game for the entire season. They’ll figure it out. That will mean more conversions, more scoring.
And, of course, more fun for us old heads who got really, really tired of NBA offense grinding down to one guy dribble, one guy set a screen, three guys head to the sideline for popcorn. All this player and ball movement is much more aesthetically pleasing.