Sunday 17 October 2021

NBA 2021-22

The NBA regular season returns this week (on Tuesday) with the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Brooklyn Nets, who are favourites to win the championship this season. The Nets were ousted from the playoffs last season by the Bucks in overtime in game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-final. The Los Angeles Lakers are second favourite, the Bucks third, and the Golden State Warriors, who haven't made the playoffs for the last two seasons, fourth favourite along with the Utah Jazz.

As some of you will know, the strategy of backing the Overs in games where the Total is "high" has been a profitable one since the average points per game started climbing after 2012. For no reason other than I ran out of fingers, I've been adding ten to the previous season's average points totals and backing Over for matches where the total is set higher. 
There were 150 fewer games in 2020-21 with each team playing 72 games rather than the usual 82, but enough games were played to allay any concerns. Other than total points scored, a couple of other metrics I keep an eye on are the pace of the game, and the number of three-point shots being taken and scored. In line with the increase in points scored, the pace of the game has also been steadily increasing since 2012, although last season it fell slightly, but only by 1.1%.

As well as the faster pace of the game, the other key metric driving more points being scored is the increase in three-point shots being taken and also being scored. 

When the three-point line was introduced in 1979, it's an understatement to say that teams were slow to recognise its potential. In the 1980-81 season, teams attempted an average of two three-point attempts per game, scoring from 25% of those shots, i.e. the grand sum of one and a half points was the average in a game from shooting a three!  

Forty years on and the numbers are a record high of 34.6 attempts per game with a near record high 36.7% conversion rate. At the height of the Chicago Bulls success, the 1996-96 season was a 36.9% conversion rate, but last season was the next highest and from more than twice as many attempts. 

The bottom line is that the expected number of points per game from threes has climbed from 1.5 in 1980-81 to more than 38 last season. With change comes opportunity. 

One other number that helped last season was the number of turnovers which at 13.8 per game is the fewest since this stat was first recorded back in 1973. Since 2000, this number has stayed in the 14 to 15.1 range so it will be interesting to see whether this turns out to be a trend or a blip. 

1 comment:

Annis said...

So what was last year’s average total