Nearly two weeks into the 2022-23 NBA season, offenses are performing at rates never before seen so early in the schedule. How much of that is a result of the league’s rule change penalizing transition take fouls?
As the season tipped off, I highlighted the new rule imported from the G League and its success in reducing fouls to stop fast breaks. But it was difficult to tell how much impact a similar rule would have because G League players never got in the same habit of intentionally fouling, which had become common in the NBA.
Now, we’ve had a reasonable sample to see the rule in action. We’ve also had a series of high scores. Entering Sunday’s play, half the league’s teams were averaging at least 115 points per game, something not seen in the NBA over a full season since eight of the 14 teams accomplished it in the 1969-70 season.
How reliable an indicator is the increase in scoring at this point of the season? And what do the numbers tell us about how much can be explained by the absence of transition take fouls? Let’s take a look.
Scoring and efficiency are off to historic starts
Because the league’s weakest offenses have been worse relative to the typical one than the best offenses have been good, the average entering Sunday’s games was a mere 114.0 points per game.
That’s still easily the highest at this stage of the season since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, more than a point per game ahead of the fast start to the 2018-19 campaign.
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