Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Zone Era KB42PAH

Blue: Isolation era+Handchecking
Red: Zone era+Handchecking (Best defensive era in NBA history)
Green: Zone Era without handchecking

Conclusion: Clearly stats from the 80s and 90s - both PPG+FG%- are inflated, due to faster run-and-gun pace (think 2005 Suns, 2007 Warriors), inferior defense, and inferior players.

Conclusion: Free throw attempts per game and fouls per game have decreased substaintially from the 80s and 90s.

What do the players think?

Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady

KICKS: If you guys could change one rule in the League, what would it be?
Kevin Garnett: No zone.
Tim Duncan : Yeah, the zone.
Kevin Garnett: If there was one rule I could change today, it would be the zone.

KICKS: Because it didn’t do what they thought it would do?
Kevin Garnett: I think it puts players that are really good at a disadvantage, so to speak. Everybody here gets double-teams, if not triple-teams, so we can all speak on this. But it sorta—I remember Phoenix sat somebody literally right there [in the lane].
Tracy McGrady: It makes it hard for a guy like me
Kevin Garnett: —who penetrates.
Tim Duncan: It makes it hard for all of us.
Tracy McGrady: It’s tough on all of us, it really is. When you’re tryin’ to make a move, and you got another guy sittin’ right there on the same side just waitin’…
Kevin Garnett: Waitin’ on you!
Tracy McGrady: Just waitin’.
Kevin Garnett: He ain’t even playin’ his man!
Tracy McGrady: Nah, not at all.


November, 2007: Kobe Bryant:

"The rules are completely different now,'' said Bryant, comparing his era to Jordan's. "I've always been able to shoot the ball, but the rules have changed since he played in terms of playing a zone defense. You have to be a jump shooter now because there's no way you can get to the basket -- particularly myself because they just stack guys up. I wish we had the rules they had back in the day where you could isolate guys and you could go to the basket anytime. But now you have to be able to shoot.''

2001, P.J Brown:

"I don't think it's good at all. Zones will bring the games to a grind," Charlotte forward P.J. Brown said.

2001, Shaquille O'neal:

"Stinks," the Los Angeles star said. "I have a lot to say, but not now.

2001, Colangelo, on why the rule change was proposed:

"Our belief is that the game has evolved, and the product we have presently was one that needed attention," Colangelo said "The game has changed in the sense that we've lost a lot of fluidity. We've evolved into an isolation game because of our defensive guidelines, and we weren't satisfied with the way the game looked."

An Argument in favor of Modernity

Everything gets better with time: technology, sports, science, education, etc. The best players, the best era of every sports are in the current era.

Swimming: Phelps, greatest swimmer that has ever lived
Golf: Tiger, greatest golfer that has ever lived
Running: Usain Bolt, fastest runner that has ever lived
Tennis: Federer, greatest tennis player that has ever lived
MMA: Fedor, greatest fighter that has ever lived.
Weightlifting: Ronnie Coleman, greatest weightlifter that has ever lived
NFL, Soccer: Now they are better than ever.
NBA: Best it has EVER been . Yet people are delusional and think it was better 30 years ago??! Complete nonsense.

This era has:

75% of the game's greatest perimeter players: Kobe, LeBron, Wade (Jordan being the other)
43% of the game's greatest perimeter players: Shaq, Duncan, Garnett (Hakeem, Kareem, Wilt, Russel being the others)
Some of the best PGs: Kidd, Nash, Billups, CP3, Deron Williams, Baron Davis, Tony Parker
Some of the games best shooters ever: Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitszki, Steve Nash, Peja Stojakovic Kobe Bryant
Best scorers/swingmen: Kobe, Wade, Lebron, Carter, Pierce, Melo, Iverson, etc
The games most amazing physical specimens: Shaq, Lebron, Dwight
The games most versatile big men: Dirk, Garnett

-2008 was the most competitive year in NBA history. All 8 teams in the western conference won 50+ games
-No team has repeated since zone has been legalized .

The players are bigger, stronger, faster, better, all while having more fundamentals and skills. This era is better defensively, better talent wise, better competitively. If you think Michael Jordan is the greatest player ever, that's fine. There is no problem there. If you think Michael would have dominated this era, that's perfectly fine - I agree there, Jordan would have dominated any era. However, you cannot deny that the players are stronger, faster, better offensively, better defensively, and better talent wise.


00s/zone era: The greatest era of basketball.

My 2 videos on zone defense:

Alborz Kobe Alborz KB42PAH
Alborz KB42PAH Alborz Kobe


robertinho said...

75% all time perimeter players? 43% interior? Have you ever seen a game b4 95???????????????
U r clueless

Anonymous said...

D howard is not a beast?

gautam said...

Your post was brilliant up until you said this:

"Conclusion: Clearly stats from the 80s and 90s - both PPG+FG%- are inflated, due to faster run-and-gun pace (think 2005 Suns, 2007 Warriors), inferior defense, and inferior players."

Well, that was almost in the beginning, so actually very little of your post was any good at all.

Anybody who thinks that the players were inferior clearly didn't watch basketball very closely, and the defense was a result of general coaching trends, and not any paucity of defensive skill or intensity.

Anonymous said...

Amazing analysis of zone defense. Keep up the great work.

john marzan said...

don't be too harsh, he's just a young kid relying on stats without actually watching or understanding

Anonymous said...

Jeez...there's just too much here to refute, and your arguments are so shallow. Just the obvious for now:

--Yes, the current era has the best athletes of all time. By far.

--Does athleticism = basketball excellence? Uh, no. Have you ever watched Larry Bird play? Or Steve Nash? Average athletes. Even Michael Redd, Kevin Martin and Chauncey Billups aren't great athletes. You confuse athleticism and basketball ability.

--Case in point: Listing Baron Davis as a reason why today's players are the best ever. Last year, in the prime of his careen, BD was a BELOW AVERAGE starting NBA point guard. I won't bother to list a bunch of stats, but any cursory glance at them will confirm this. And Tony Parker and Chauncey? I mean, yeah, they're pretty good...borderline all-stars; but not nearly good enough to support your broader point.

I got excited to read an analysis of the zone era; but instead you got sidetracked, and never gave us readers much more than some unsupported babble.

Your broader point--that today's players would have better stats, and would be shown as clearly better than yesterday's stars, were it not for the zone--is an interesting one. You just didn't tackle it in any substantial way.

Anonymous said...

The game should be 4 on 4. The court is too crowd, zone or no zone.

Anonymous said...



If you want to play zone 4 on 4, go ahead. It is be tougher.

Anonymous said...

It is "going" to be tougher.

Sorry for the dropped words.

The athletes just outgrew the space.

Too many are told to space the court which essentially means get out of the way.

You don't need 5 on 5 to fulfill the roles or make plays work.

Anonymous said...

The historical graphs were good to get out there.

robert said...

Interesting analysis, thanks for the work. But I find the comparison of Jordan to Kobe a bit painful. While it demonstrates the difference in the eras, I am left feeling that this is all an argument to prove Kobe's greatness. What I love about the new rules is exactly what you have demonstrated, this is team game first. A great player should find a way of abusing those that double or triple team them.

Winter Goose said...

i love your video breakdowns and analysis. they are very insightful. Thanks for your hard work. that being said, the messages of your videos are super biased. i understand that every argument needs a thesis, but come on man. wouldn't it be better to just do a straight up comparison between kobe and mj if that is your thesis? indirectly making your argument weakens it, especially when you can pick and choose the clips you show. that being said, the onus lies on someone else to come up with response videos. thanks for your analysis again. it was intersting

Anonymous said...

something else to consider about leaguewide scoring over the years: the shaq effect, and i'm not referring to his shooting percentage. after shaq tore down rims/backboards in phoenix and nj during his rookie year (92-93 season) the nba changed the basket supports/rims during the summer of 93. beginning in the 93-94 season the rims were noticeably tighter in arenas famous for having loose/forgiving rims (boston garden/chicago stadium/msg, etc.) tighter rims meant any non-swish was likely a missed shot. players knew this so there was more pressure to shoot a swish. i remember around that time seeing a missed foul shot hit back rim and land all the way by the three point line. in a book on jordan ("rebound" by bob greene) there's a description of jordan trying to loosen the rims of the united center during the spring of 95 when he first returned to the bulls. he retired before the 93-94 season, so he never played with the new rims until he came back in 95.

the league eventually noticed the tighter rims might be contributing to lower scoring games (a 4 point drop off in ppg the first year of the new rims) and over time seemed to have loosened the rims slightly (but not as loose as they used to be) without compromising the now shaq-proof basket supports in every arena. this is based on observations not stats, but someone out there must have noticed this too, right?

Zane Hasouris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason J said...

The zone was doom to big players, but the no handcheck was a godsend to explosive perimeter players. The eFG% for 2009 was higher than any 1989. The difference is that guards and slashing forwards do the lion's share of the scoring, so the FG% is lower. Watching Kobe fail to get by the Boston Celtics is one thing - they are possibly the best team defense of the past 10 years. It just isn't really convincing evidence that things have gotten tougher for guards to someone who has seen Wade or Parker explode into prominence since the rule change went into effect.

Anonymous said...

if tha rest of tha lakers culd hit wide open shots then no1 wuld play zone... thats orlando get so many 3s... teams double dwight and with a ball rotation they get open 3s for all their shooters

Stu said...

Kobe SHOULD NOT be taking half those shots. Some go, he's a great player, but how many has he forced and missed? A good zone stops Kobe and other players of his nature getting away with their 1 on 1 shit, basketball is a team game, defend as a TEAM. Over and out.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post -

I wonder about Allen Iverson when all of this stuff comes up. He played his most valuable ball when both the zone and hand-checking were allowed. How did that work? Well, I've been saying this for a few years now: AI may shoot a poor percentage, but THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO TAKE THAT SHOT AWAY! And he'll play the whole darn game!

Maybe that explains why the Sixers managed to get to the finals with defense-only guys like Eric Snow and Mutombo starting (you know, aside from the East being horrible...)

Just ramp up the defense (with hand-checking and zone) and give the ball to AI when the other team tries to do the same on their end. AI was just too fast and too good to stop from creating his ~43% shot...

It's what made him so special, but also only so difficult to fit into a team's lineup.


way to go said...

ugh. way to hide your kobe > jordan sentiments behind a curtain of statistics. just say it aloud sir.

Anonymous said...

LOL an amateur statistician doing his finest work. Per GAME numbers? FG%? Really? For someone claiming to be for the "modern" times he's stuck in the NBA equivalent era of the Stone Age in statistics.

Try again Kobe homer.

Anonymous said...

your obsession with kobe is not healthy anymore. makes you talk shit.

the past era of the nba is obviously BIG MAN dominted, thus the higher percentages of scoring.

zone with defensive 3 seconds - wtf?

im sorry but your arguments are weak

Anonymous said...

"Jordan never had a booke written about him by his former coach dedicated to explaining how selfish of a player he was. Jordan was never accused of raping anyone."

Zane Hasouris, you're a fucking moron. Look at Kobe's game right now and you'll know he isn't selfish at all. And the rape accusation? Huh? Does that have anything to do with Kobe's ability as a basketball player? People will pry for any type of argument possible to demerit someone they do not like. It's pathetic, and exposes how weak your argument really is. If you can't supply legitimate facts then don't post at all, because talking about his rape case as part of your argument makes you seem like a fucking fool.

Anonymous said...

You're funny.

Jamaal said...

its funny how this dumb ass calls this era the greatest bcuz zone is legalized thats a lame excuse to say kobe is better than michael. typical kobetardwho makes excuses to y michael is the greatest

Anonymous said...

This blogger is a moron. Effective FG% has actually been consistent throughout the last 20 years. It dipped in the mid to late 90s and is at an all time high now.

This post = EPIC FAIL!

Anonymous said...

this is just fucking retarded

i like Kobe. he's great. his game is the closest to Jordan's since Jordan. he may even be a better ball-handler and three-point shooter than Jordan (though a lot of this is just that Kobe takes more 3s). but on every other level Jordan has it all over Kobe. athleticism: jumping ability, strength, explosiveness. drives: bigger hands (he could do one-handed double-clutches and tear down rebounds and catch passes with one hand). mid-range slightly better than Kobe. even more clutch, though Kobe is also ultra-clutch. Jordan was also a better competitor and team player than Kobe.

i like Kobe a lot but Jordan is far and away the GoAT. Kobe knows it, too, and his fans are the only ones who try to say otherwise

Anonymous said...

Funny someone as naive as the one who wrote this blog can type "Jordan vs zone defense" on youtube and easily see him playing against zone defense. Someone clearly has no understanding of what the "Jordan Rules" were.

This clown is clueless!!!

Psychomajoreflex said...

Really, these statements are really biased, and you claim that every bit of sports and entertainment gets better.

Have not noticed the soft salary cap? NBA is getting ridiculous now, so is soccer, where games are being rigged from left to right. Remember the octopus from the 2010 World Cup? Ridiculous, it is rigged! The owner of the octopus claims that the octopus predicted the outcome of every single game from start to finish, like that Spain was going to win the world cup, you can tell now, it is just for the owner to make money, so the referees rigged the game in favor of what the octopus predicted. Its not about the game, no forget that, its about the octopus! nuff said