By Erik Drost from United States (Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The NBA Scoring Bubble Bubble

Over the past week there has been much talk of an NBA scoring explosion, and the crazy stat line boom.  While, as 538 and Ben Golliver show, in some ways there has been an increase in the rate of exceptional individual performances over the recent past, NBA offenses as a whole are not in fact performing at extreme levels.

NBA Offensive Efficiency (ORtg = PTS per 100 Poss per Basketball-Reference) Yearly Spans since 1999. Quartile plot, each dot represents a team’s ORtg from a given year.

Today’s offenses, for reasons explained by Zach Lowe (the tactical response to the Thibs D, the recognition of and movement towards optimal lineups and shot selection), are returning to the levels of those from the late 00’s after a post lockout dip.  It’s true that a few top offenses are operating at unprecedented efficiency, skewing the league average (mean), but by and large teams are still not as efficient as they were between 2009 and 2011.  Like most things these days that aren’t entirely true, we just get to hear a lot more about it.

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