How To Read Offensive Team Rankings
Every team is accounted for, whether you are looking at it by conference or throughout the NBA. Each team will have a rank based on where they rank within their conference or within the league. If the Lakers rank 27th in three-point percentage, the number 27 will indicate that is where they rank within the league. Now looking through the rankings you are going to see a lot of colors. The green means they are in the top ten of their league, the yellow is the middle ten, and the red is the bottom ten of the league. A team might rank top five in points, but struggle in various offensive areas. Rarely do we see a team have such a huge difference in points scored and offensive rating, but it does happen. That is where volume can outweigh efficiency much more heavily.
TS% is a great way to evaluate a team’s efficiency for shooting. It measures free throws, two-pointers, and three-pointers and weights them at their worth. Bringing it all together, you are going to see how a team shoots overall and how efficiently they score as well. Teams are going to operate differently based on their skillsets. A team might not be a strong three-point shooting team, which would be shown in TS% as well, but broken out you can see where their strengths are.
You can breakdown how fast a team plays in comparison to the rest of the league with the pace column, and how teams manage their shot preferences. Houston has been a top tier three-point shooting teams in recent years. Sorting by three-point attempts showcases which teams are the most three-point dominant and how their offenses are run. It also showcases who is not evolving into the three-point craze.
What Top Offenses Excel At
You might have heard about European style offenses or triangular offenses from the Phil Jackson Knicks days where that didn’t pan out at all. We tend to look at four key areas of an offense for how they are used. First off, pace is one of the major reasons why the NBA is so high scoring these days. Most teams are focused on pace and attempts, because the more attempts, the greater chances of scoring. Pace around offenses still ranges from top to bottom, where teams are playing below the average 100 mark, but we are seeing a growing number of teams climb over that 100 mark each season. A lot of the stronger offenses these days are pushing at a higher pace. Those who are not pushing the pace can still be effective, but it puts more weight on their efficiency numbers.
Player and ball movement tend to correlate with each other. For example, the Golden State Warriors were one of the best teams in moving the ball around, but their player movement made that happen. An extra pass goes a long way, and you are going to get good shot selections that come with that. While those Warriors teams had some of the best shooters on the planet, it made things much easier, the overall process of their offense was completely unselfish. Ball movement is a beautiful thing to watch, and teams that rank higher in assists produce some efficient basketball.
Shot selection is certainly a key aspect of how teams are run. Daryl Morey, the GM of the Houston Rockets, built an offense that was focused on shots at the rim and three-pointers. His analytical side gave him the idea to take efficient close-range shots, and not settle for long-range twos. In theory, it is a smart move, and we have seen it pay off for him as Houston has been one of the top offenses in recent years, and has accelerated the position-less small-ball era. That being said they have their moments where the three-point shot is not there and they struggle over a game or even a series.
How Pace Has An Effect On Offensive Stats
Pace has been on the rise after a stagnant decade of a more defensive and slow-paced approach. We go back to those Lakers, Pistons, and Celtic championship seasons in the 2000s, and things were just simply slower back then. We saw more post-up play, plenty of ISO ball, and also plenty of dominating big men. A lot has changed over recent years, with less ISO play, more ball movement, and teams going a lot smaller. Pace and space have been the model for most offenses of late, and that has given us some changes in how offensive stats have looked recently.
Three pointers are one area that has correlated with a higher pace. The run and gun style offense is more in play as teams try and catch teams in transition, but three-pointers are simply up in general because they are a smarter shot than a long-range two. Houston has given us that example, and other teams have begun to follow. Overall shot attempts are going to correlate with pace, as we do see often that some of the higher field goal attempt teams also leading with pace. Now you might see a team that has a lower pace with higher field goal attempts, and this can be because of their play style, as they are not having a lot of attempts through layups and dunks.
Pace can have a slightly negative effect on turnovers as well. A team that pushes high in pace are also more prone to turnovers in transition, and will just overall have a higher amount of turnovers because they are producing more possessions on the offensive side. Points are obvious when it comes to pace, and how it translates into stats. The higher pace teams are producing higher points because of their ability to generate more possessions and chances to score. Free throw attempts are also another stat to consider when pace is factored in, they are getting to the line way more.
One stat that hasn’t exactly had a consistent correlation with pace is assist numbers. These are still all over the place in terms of how we can view them. This tends to just be more involved with ball movement and overall efficiency numbers when it comes to shooting too. Over time we could see this change, but for now, that is where the correlation is.
Efficiency Vs. Volume
When breaking down an offense, we are looking at two sets of numbers, efficiency stats and volume stats. What correlates more with a strong offense, and also what sets a team up for winning games? Looking at overall FG%, the higher the number isn’t necessarily set with overall points per game, however, it does give you a decent offensive rating. Three-point percentage is largely linked to attempts as well, which translates into a better chance at overall points. This is why we have seen teams shoot more three-pointers in comparison to any time in NBA history.
Attempts tell us a little bit more about producing points. The more attempts the better it seems, especially when it comes to threes. The amount of three-point attempts have correlated closer with points per game over the last few seasons. The overall amount of field goal attempts strongly coordinate with the number of points scored in a game. Getting to the free throw line is important as well, and looking at free throw attempts, they often correlate with stronger free throw numbers overall, and they are also linked to overall points scored in a game.
Looking at it as a whole, attempts should be weighted higher than efficiency when it comes to how an offense is going to score. However, efficiency is still going to be a strong effect. And looking at it on a game by game level, efficiency is going to have its higher weight. When looking at a team like Houston, if a three game playoff stretch is filled with lower efficiency, then those attempts won’t matter if the other team is more effective. Throughout a season, those averages play out more, and shooting 36% from three and taking more attempts is going to be a major plus. It will be interesting to see as more seasons of data pour in for how this is all working in a new offensive era.
Best Offenses In NBA History
The sport of basketball has changed so much over the years, and we have seen more analytical data come out in recent years to shape offenses, but also to tell us how to view an offense in success. The three-point era is alive and well, and some of the older fellas like Charles Barkley still have an issue with the way the game is being played. It is also not as slow as it used to be, and certainly not as physical as it used to be either. But throughout history, we have seen a lot of great offenses take shape.
Once Shaquille O’Neal came into the league, we have seen many offenses thrive with him in it. Early on in his career, he and Penny Hardaway dominated the offensive side for the Orlando Magic. They had an offensive rating of 115.1 that season, averaging 115 points per 100 possessions. O’Neal averaged 29 points per game, while Hardaway averaged 20.9 per game. They also had a steady set of shooters with Brian Shaw and Nick Anderson. Some will say Reggie Miller was ahead of his time, and he certainly was. His three-point attempts were much higher than most in the league, and why wouldn’t they be, he was excellent. Mark Jackson made it all work, but names like Jalen Rose and Chris Mullin were also big names that could score.
Some of the greats came out of the 1990s, and of course, Michael Jordan sent a lot of them home in the playoffs. The Utah Jazz was one of the top overall teams but fell short most seasons. John Stockton and Karl Malone were one of the best duos in the game. Stockton will go down as one of the best assist men of all-time, but Malone was also a force. Of course, the Bulls during that historic 1995-96 season dominated, with an offensive rating of 115. They also won 72 games that year. Jordan averaged 30 points per game that season and shot 43% from three, and 49% from the field. Scottie Pippen also chipped in alongside a few other notable names. That 1987-88 Boston Celtics team with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale dominating is also one of the top offenses of that era.
The Phoenix Suns have had some great offenses throughout the years. Steve Nash has been a part of a few of them, but also during his time in Dallas he led one of the top offenses of all time. In the 2002-03 season, the offensive rating was at 110.7, and they won 60 games. Dirk Nowitzki was lighting it up from the field, averaging 25 points per game. You also had Michael Finley who was an overlooked part of this team. Back to the Suns, their 2006-07 season was insanely fast-paced, and Nash was a force in transition. You also had a lot of sharpshooters as well as bigs who could run like Marion and Stoudemire. The Suns in the 2009-10 season were also electric. Overall these Suns and Mavericks teams from the 2000s set a lot of records in terms of offense and were a blueprint for how the game is played today a bit. We have seen the Rockets put together dominant stretches of offense, and Golden State having shooters like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry were also just a delight. Another honorable mention would be the Kings during the early 2000s.
NBA Team Ranking Question & Answer
Who Has The Best Offense In The NBA 2021?
The Los Angeles Clippers currently rank first in offensive rating and have some of the best shooting numbers in basketball. They are averaging 114 points per game despite playing at one of the slower paces in basketball.
Who Has The Worst NBA Offense In 2021?
Based off offensive rating and points per game, the Cleveland Cavaliers rank dead last in both. The roster isn't currently built for putting up a ton of points, especially with no shooters in the front court. A roster of bigs is certainly anti small ball.
Who Was The Highest Scoring NBA Team In 2021?
The Washington Wizards are averaging 120 points per game this season but so are the Milwaukee Bucks. Both of these teams are filled with scoring options and play at a high pace of play. They should continue to lead the league in scoring.
Who Was The Lowest Scoring NBA Team in 2021?
The Cavaliers are averaging just 99 points per game this season. With an inexperienced group and a roster filled with big men, it is no surprise to see the Cavaliers as one of the lower scoring teams in the league.
What NBA Team Plays The Fastest?
The Washington Wizards play at a 105 pace and that is the highest in the league. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal in the backcourt has always played at a higher pace just given their style and that carries over to the Wizards overall play.
What NBA Team Plays The Slowest?
The New York Knicks play at the slowest pace in the league. With Coach Thibs at the helm he has always played at a slower pace and is more defensive minded. Expect the Knicks to continue at this pace for the rest of the year.
Who Is The Best Shooting Team In The NBA?
The Brooklyn Nets have the best field goal percentage and the second-best three-point percentage. A team led by James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant is going to boast tremendous shooting numbers but Joe Harris also chips in with stellar production.