The 2019 NBA regular season is now in the history books. After another wild year on the offensive end, its time to examine what has driven NBA offense this year.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the poster boys for offensive production in 2019, averaging a whopping 118.1 points per game. They were second in both three pointers attempted and made this season, only behind Houston. Though they ranked 27th in two point attempts, Giannis efficiency at the rim meant they rated first in two point %. Delving slightly deeper into the Bucks numbers shows you they almost never took mid range shots. New coach Mike Budenholzer pushed them to take a tonne of three pointers while letting Giannis finish at the rim at all-time great efficiency. 38% of their shot attempts were dunks or layups. All the above contributed to them having the leagues best offense and a 60 wins season.
The Golden State Warriors have been a model of offense consistency for the last five years. Boasting all-time great shooters Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, they shot their way to the league’s second best offense this season. In previous seasons the Warriors were atop the three point attempt ladder. This season they only ranked eighth, due to other teams attempting significantly more. Due to the quality of their shooters they ranked second in percentage and in makes.
Coach Steve Kerr has always been high on letting the shooters get to their spots. He has never stopped his guys shooting from the mid range. Only second to the Bucks in two point efficiency, the Warriors interestingly made the least layups in the entire league. They take the shots that the opposition defense gives them, rather than forcing a three or trying to get a shot inside, if a mid range shooter is open he takes the shot.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Detroit Pistons, somehow making the Playoffs with the 25th ranked offense. Not a great three point shooting team, they put up enough attempts to rank ninth in makes regardless. Not an exceptional two point shooting team, the Pistons used rebounding ace Andre Drummond to generate extra possessions for themselves. Their offensive struggles were in part due to shot selection, attempting the fourth most floaters in the league. They only made 39.6% of these shots.
This regular season saw some continuing trends as far as shooting and offense went. Three point attempts went up by three a game, from 29 to 32. This uptick in volume saw a decrease in efficiency, from 36.2% to 35.5%. Two points shots per game stayed the same, meaning that overall attempts per game increased. This increased shooting manifested itself in an extra five points per game, from 106 to 111. The other significant difference in offense from 2018 to 2019 was less mid range shots being taken in favor of better shots at the rim. An increase from 28% to 29% rim reflects teams taking more dunks and layups.
Ball movement was also on the up as assists increased on both two point and three point shots. In summary, the league is continuing to see an increase in three point shooting and a move towards more efficient play with less mid range shooting. Though turnovers were up on previous years, teams are relying more heavily on analytics to improve their play and make the most of their possessions. It will remain to see whether these trends continues in the Playoffs!