This article is part of our Numbers Game series.
The NBA is in a scoring bonanza. But another critical scoring trend lurks unnoticed beneath the surface. Where there are unappreciated trends, there is fantasy opportunity. This … Is Numbers Game.
Sorry, I decided it might be fun to start the article like it was the lead in to a TV news story. But seriously, there is an important scoring trend that demands our attention. Let's dive in.
Scoring is up, bigly.
NBA scores are rising, and fast. This season, teams are averaging 105.5 points per game. In 2015-16, NBA teams averaged 102.7 points per game. That, too, was up from 2014-15 when they averaged only 100.0. Before that, scores had been somewhat stable since the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. That's a roughly five points per game per team increase in just two seasons. That's a big, fast jump.
It is not just the total scores that are increasing. Teams are scoring more efficiently, too. According to points per possession, there was little change in league scoring patterns between 2012-13 and 2015-16, though 2015-16 was on the high side of the range. The league-wide offensive rating, which is just the points per possession times 100 (or points per 100 possession) hovered between 103 and 104. This season, offensive rating has jumped to 106.0.
The increased scoring has led to some explosive final scores. This season, 39 teams have scored 130 points in a game, and eight have reached 140 points. If that pace continues, those feats will be reached 57 and