Modeling the current NBA

The surprise, and the irony, is that the more good players there are, the more important the great ones have become. The proliferation of offensive threats has meant that defenses can’t train their attention all on one person; that means that there are better shots for the best players to take, and the best players have become even better at making them. They have more room to drive to the basket, where shots are hyper-efficient. They are more practiced and skilled at hitting long threes. They are better at drawing fouls and savvier about off-ball movement, picks, and screens. Most of all, perhaps, they can pass, and the threat of those passes makes them harder to defend. More than ever, offenses revolve around a single star—a phenomenon that many around the N.B.A. have taken to calling heliocentrism, a term that the Athletic writer Seth Partnow used in a 2019 column describing the Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić. Hero ball “didn’t go away,” Kirk Goldsberry, an ESPN analyst, told the podcast “ESPN Daily.” “It just went to M.I.T., got a degree in analytics, and rebranded as heliocentrism.”

Here is more from Louisa Thomas at The New Yorker.


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