A Changing NBA: What Exactly Are We Witnessing?

The NBA game is constantly changing. It’s easy to look back through the history of the league and see the not so subtle differences in style of play, defining moments/players, etc.

The 1960s NBA was defined by pure finesse; a ballet of offense which produced league averages of over 115 PPG.

The 1970s was defined by the NBA/ABA merger.  An era that introduced raw power and athleticism into the league.

The 1980s were defined by showtime.  Magic Johnson and the Lakers brought us a brand of basketball that broke all the rules.  Later in the decade we saw teams who couldn’t play showtime basketball adopt quite the opposite style; a bruising, defensive, and borderline dirty style of play.

The 1990s were defined by Michael Jordan. And only Michael Jordan.

The 2000s were also defined by Jordan in a way.  Teams were desperate to find the heir to the Jordan throne, drafting young upside guys straight out of high school.  This greatly diluted the talent in the NBA as a whole, and the league suffered to an extent. That’s not to say there weren’t bright spots though – the Kobes, Garnetts, and TMacs.

But what era are we currently in?  What is the state of the current NBA? And what will define the basketball we are watching right now?

To me, that answer is obvious.  Today’s NBA will be defined by the 3pt shot.

(Let me note that we have also been witnessing a clear-cut top 3 player to ever play the game in Lebron James.  I don’t mean to downplay his greatness during this era in any way.)

Shooting.  The best shooter of the era, Ray Allen, is without a doubt the best shooter of all time.  That being said, when it’s all said and done he probably won’t be.  With guys like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver ripping the nets at clips never before seen, it’s important to realize the greatness we are witnessing.

Last season, when compared to every league leader in 3 point shooting percentage since the adoption of the line, Kyle Korver attempted more than 100 more 3 point shots than the next greatest ‘attempter’.  And he did this while still shooting 47%.  He is currently on pace to shoot even more 3 point shots this season while shooting 53%.

Korver is doing something very rare.  If he finishes at or above 53% he will hold the NBA record for highest single season 3pt FG percentage.  The current record holder is Steve Kerr, who shot 52% during the ’94-’95 season.  Kerr attempted 170 3pt shots that season.  Korver has already attempted 254 3pt shots this season.  *Mind blown*

What Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are doing with the Warriors (under Steve Kerr nonetheless) is of the same mold.

The duo have been so great many are already pondering whether they might be the best shooting backcourt ever.  Guess what… neither is older than 26 years old.  There are a lot of 3s left in that duo.  If you haven’t seen the two play, I suggest you change that quickly.  They will be two you tell your grandkids about.   Don’t believe me? Watch for yourself.

There is a premium being put on the outside shot in the NBA.  Strictly looking at percentages might not suggest the 3pt shot is any better now than it has been in past decades, but the fact of the matter is players are shooting significantly more and still hitting at an impressive clip.

The aforementioned guys are hitting shots at all-time great levels.  Meanwhile, other top players around the league like James Harden, Kevin Durant, Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard, and Kevin Love are utilizing the deep ball at an exceptionally high rate as well.  When we look back at this current era of the NBA I think we will say two things:

A) There was all-time great talent. (Lebron, Kobe, KD, possibly Anthony Davis).

B) The 3pt shot was being successfully utilized like we had never seen before and possibly will never see again.

Growth, Development, and Buckets

Alright.  Let’s talk Louisville.  It really gets on my nerves when people are against an NBA team here.  NBA fan or not, it would make sense.  Let’s address several arguments I hear against a NBA team in Louisville.

PEOPLE HERE LIKE COLLEGE BASKETBALL AND WON’T SUPPORT NBA

What?  So much evidence suggests otherwise.  First of all, people in this city love basketball.  As a former high school player I played in many packed and high energy gyms across the city.  I never heard anyone say, “High school players play with more heart, they aren’t worried about scholarships and money.  It’s more honest basketball”  (You may sense some hostility to this comment; as you should.  I’ll address that later).  No. Let’s address that now. You can’t tell me that without the regulations from the NCAA some of these college players would be going directly to the NBA. You may also consider their choice of playing at Kentucky or UL is directly related to the ability of the coach to get them to the league.  Therefore, for some of these kids it’s all about the money.

As a repeat season ticket holder to UL you see the same passion but on a larger scale.  Instead of high school loyalty dividing fans, they can unite under the University of Louisville.  This city is still divided.  I don’t even have to mention the rivalry that divides us when it comes to sports.  Imagine the energy and pure magic that could be instilled in the city if we actually had something we can all root for as one.  I cite December 8th, 2010.  The Louisville home game in the Yum! Center that evening had an attendance of 21,000 fans.  Simultaneously the University of Kentucky hosted Notre Dame in Freedom Hall with an attendance of 18,000 fans.  That is a total of 39,000 fans in the same city, miles apart, at the same time, supporting a team that they love.  This is almost double the seating capacity of the Yum! Center for basketball games.

Lets task October 4th, 2014.  The Yum! Center hosted an NBA exposition game between the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans.  Even in the wake of Lebron leaving the Heat more than 21,000 people attended the game.  This was in competition with a waterfront/river road music festival and events on Fourth street as well.  You don’t have to take it from me, see what the Heat have to say about their experience in the Yum Center.  I sat in the fifth row at the game.  The energy when Russ Smith and Anthony Davis took the floor was unparalleled to any energy I have felt at any NBA game I have attended.  Moral is that the Heat think they can make money playing in our arena…. why can’t we have our home team to keep that money in-house?

I also would like to refer you to an earlier post talking about former UL and UK players in the league and further reasons why Louisville would support the NBA.

Also, remember that exhibition game that occurred on October 4th, 2014?  81% of the people who attended were from Louisville or Southern Indiana.  Take a look at the population trend of this region.

WHERE IS THE CORPORATE MONEY TO SUPPORT THIS?

By no means can I speak for any corporation.  What I do see and would like to point out is the commitment corporations in Louisville have made to the city.

The obvious one is the fact that our arena is named the YUM! center.  If Yum! did not anticipate success, they would not have put the 100 million plus into the arena to have it build.  It is and will be their contribution and legacy in the city.  They are rooted in the town and seem to be itching to have something to get the city behind and excited about.  With a market cap of 33.69 billion dollars as reported by Forbes, I am sure that they can find a way to give support to the potential team.

Brown-Forman is another local name that has taken interest in our town here.  Our city is growing, especially downtown.  Neighborhoods are improving, remodeling, and trying to contribute to the growth that the Yum! Center may seem to be helping.  For example Whiskey Row downtown just east of the arena is continuing to grown.  With a name like that, who would you guess is having a hand in this directional growth? If you guessed Brown-Forman you would be correct.  This shows their dedication and involvement with the growth of the city.

NuLu is another neighborhood on the rise!  They host a variety of events and festivals for the citizens here.  The NuLu fest that occurred over the summer tops that list.  I encourage you all to attend next summer to see the new-found energy in an all but seemingly forgotten part of the town.

Louisville will continue to grow.  Current plans for a new Omni Hotel to be built shows that not only I, but parties outside of the city believe in the growth that we are kick starting in the city.

IT WOULD MESS WITH UofL AND THEIR SCHEDULE

I believe in this city and its potential.  It is impossible to ignore the positive economic result of bringing an NBA team to Louisville.  That is why I am such an avid supporter.  The University of Louisville does not own the Yum! Center.  I fear that is what people are expecting.  They are merely a resident.  If you do not think we could coordinate schedules of the teams then I laugh and would like to direct you to the Staples Center in LA.  If they can handle coordination of hockey, 2 NBA teams, concerts, and other national training type events, we could handle a couple of basketball schedules.

I close with simply this.  If you don’t like the NBA, that is fine.  I am not here to directly turn you into a die-hard fan.  There is however no reason why would should be opposed to this prospect.  Maybe you are scared of change. I will warn you though.  The worst way to run your business and life is with a “This is how we have always done it attitude.”  That prevents growth, efficiency, and profit.  You can choose to not attend, but I’ll be at the game with a beer, apparel, plenty of heckling, and 22,000 other people.