Why have stars' big scoring games decreased in the past decade?
This season, I noticed something a little different about the league as opposed to when I started watching it around 8 odd years ago. I noticed that we don't see nearly as many as big scoring games now days than we did in the middle of the last decade. I remember back in those days that I'd watch ESPN every night waiting for the NBA highlights, and at least 2-3 times a week there would be someone who went off and had a huge game. Obviously it was the usual suspects, Kobe when he was putting up 35 a game, AI, T-Mac, Lebron and Wade in the early part of their primes, regardless there would be several big games where a guy would go off. However nowadays I've noticed that these big games are much more rare. Below is the number of 40 point games by season for the past 8 seasons
2011-2012- 29(66 games)
2012-2013- 12(about 29-30 games)
For me, these numbers say a lot about how the league has changed even in the past 7-8 years. Back in the 2005-2006 season, there were 108 40 point games but this season, through about a third of the season, there have been only 12 such games. Last season there were only 29 40 point games in 66 games, and the season before there were only 46 such games.
Now there are many reasons for the sudden decline in big scoring games, one of them is that from 2005-2007 there was an overlap of two generations, where the Lebron-Wade-Melo generation and the Kobe-Pierce-KG-T-Mac-AI-Dirk-Duncan generation were at their scoring peaks. But the primary reason in my opinion is that defenses have gotten better. The pace has slowed down, and defenses have gotten much better at clamping down on the superstars and forcing the other layers to beat them. Just thought it'd be interesting to see, how even though scoring in general is about the same, defenses have made sure to prevent the stars from getting their own, just thought this was something interesting.
Stars have realized that dropping 40+ doesn't get you championships. TMac/AI/Kobe (05-07) all were putting up crazy numbers but have nothing to show for it. On the other hand Duncan/Pierce/LeBron/Kobe(08-11) who all decreased their shot total to get others involved have rings to show for it. Also being the best scorer or someone who takes the most shots on the team doesn't always help your career out. Look at A.I and T-Mac two of the greatest scorers in their prime out of the league playing in China. Know look at Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas pushing walking chairs up the court. A team whould rather have a player who is a "team-first" guy who has playoff/championship experience then someone who was great at scoring but provides no leadership.
Maybe minutes too? I could be wrong but it seems teams monitor stars playing time more when they can, I don't actually know this for a fact. Less minutes=less points? Someone should look into this.
Stars want to be paired with stars now. Players like LeBron are playing with multiple all-stars, they don't need to score 50+ points some nights in order to carry their teams to wins.
Nice observation. I see this decrease in big scoring performances as a good thing. In the early 2000s there were several teams that held on to high volume scorers and allowed them to take 25+ shots a game..... needless to say these teams rarely had playoff success. These studs of individual stats boosted jersey sales and were heroes to many, however, the compeitition in the top of the league was less fierce IMO. The celtics use to let Ricky Davis shot at will and were always a middling team as a result. A.I in Philly/Denver is an obvious example as well. Vince Carter in Toronto.
The point is, the concept of team basketball is growing right now lets enjoy it while it lasts.
Yeah this return to star studded teams is affecting this from an offensive stand-point. Iso, star focussed ball is becoming a thing of the past...hopefully. And yes above all, defence has been clamping down, and I think the implementation of Zone defences has really helped.
Also the talent in the league is deeper and more even than ever before. There are so many people with the talent to be high-end scorers in the league, thus there are less teams with someone guaranteed of leading the team every night. It's widely recognized that establishing multiple threats on the court throughout the game is better than having one star leading the way. To do this, your players need their shots, and that lessens the overall attempts for a super star.
Interesting point. I wonder if this will hold up. I think we have Lebron, Durant and Melo playing some of the best basketball of their careers. I would think with these guys being in the league you would think that there was as good a chance of a 40 point game as at any time.
lebron doesnt have a big time scoring mentality. He tries to make the smart plays. Durant can score anywhere but isnt a great ball handler so he relies on teammates to get him touches where he can go to work. If you think about the past great scoreres like prime kobe, iverson and tmac, they were dominant ball handlers who wanted to go for the throat. I think we are kinda dismissing the talent of past great scorers by simply saying it isnt happening becasue todays players choose not to. There were better one on one scorers not long ago.
Thing is better one on one players haven't had much success. Kobes best scoring years he basically got no where, same with AI and Tmac. These "great scores" never had a second option to shoot giving the star players more shots. There stats were inflated because they shot so much. You think if Durant was a lone superstar on a team with crappy players he wouldn't get around 35 like kobe did? Lebron in cleveland did better then tmac in orlando when he was the lone superstar?
Dude this was a nice topic!I had been thinking this for years that scoring in the league is down compared to how it usually was, and i was going back to when Jordan could put up 40 any night, alone with Malone and Shaq, Charles, Reggie and others. I didnt even recognized the drop it has taken in the last decade. I really want to hear former NBA players and coaches speak on why this happening. I think Minutes may be a factor, but thats only one thought out of many. Great post!
The league changed after the Pistons won the championship with no "superstar". The unity and unselfish style of play that team showed on both offense and defense is something every team aspires to these days.
That is a little weighted, Kobe topped 40 points 27 times in 2005-6 and Allen Iverson did it 16 times, both were playing for non playoff teams and shooting 25 and 27 times a game, respectively. Personally, I don't think two guys chucking close to 30 shots a game for losing teams make the game any more exciting.
Now to be a contender you need to have a lot of stars and you need to share shots with them. Lebron has wade and bosh who both can average 20+. Kobe in his age could score 40 but he needs to share the ball to dwight, nash and gasol. Durant wont score a lot 40 points because his pg is westbrook, i think he will if its rondo. Melo even without amare still don't need to score 40 because his teammates are good enough to win regular season or even some playoff games without him.