It’s early but the NBA is on a blistering scoring pace, with games averaging nearly 203 points per contest. (That’s the highest since nobody played defense on Charles Barkley in Phoenix back in 93-94.) The change is predicated on possessions. Everybody wants more of them — following the championship formula of the Golden State Warriors. Even Spurs maestro Gregg Popovich said over the summer he wants to put up more shots. Popovich presumably just needed to be shown that more possessions didn’t mean less defense. The Warriors proved it.
Possessions have increased sharply across the league. NBA.com points out that teams are averaging five more possessions a game each — meaning 101.3 per game. Here’s why that’s happening — and the key stat to back it up. NBA teams shoot 60.5 percent on shots taken during the first six seconds of the shot clock. That number drops all the way down to 42.5% in the last six seconds of a possession — not surprisingly since that’s when desperation shots are tossed up. But here’s the key: after the first six seconds, from 18 down to 13, teams shoot just 50.2%. That means a full 10% drop in shooting efficiency after six seconds. That translates into this: more shots sooner. Result: more possessions.