With the NBA nowadays being more offensively friendly than ever, the pace of play has picked up over the past few years. The term PACE in the NBA is an estimate of possessions per 48 minutes by a team. The highest PACE in the 2011-12 season was the Sacramento Kings at 95.57, this means the Kings average about 95-96 possessions per 48 minutes. This year in the NBA, no team averages less than 97 possessions per game. However, having more possessions per game doesn’t ensure more points, it just means you have more opportunities to score in a game.
The top 4 teams in PACE this year are the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, and the Los Angeles Lakers. All of these teams are out of the playoff race, and none of them rank inside the top 10 in offensive rating. The offensive rating stat measures how many points a team scores per 100 possessions. To me, this shows that teams should focus more so on quality versus quantity in the sense of possessions. Out of the bottom 10 teams in PACE, 7 of them are in the playoffs, or in the race still to make the playoffs.
As an NBA fan now, I feel like everyone wants to see high pace, fast, and fun games. While I do agree these types of games are entertaining and fun to watch, this doesn’t guarantee the best basketball. Also, the Hawks, Pelicans, and Lakers all rank in the bottom 10 of turnover percentage, which shows they can be out of control at such a high pace. The average age of a team’s players could also factor into the PACE they play at. The Hawks, Kings, and Pelicans all have an average age of around 25 years old, while they Lakers sit close to 26 years old on average. However, the Lakers starting lineup consists of two 21-year old’s, and a 23-year-old.
One other factor in the PACE of a team is the head coach. Good head coaches have set half court offenses teams run to be able to slow down the game, or be able to score when they can’t get into fast break opportunities.
The reason I believe we need to be careful of falling in love with fast paced basketball is that I don’t believe it guarantees better basketball. When a team plays at a faster pace, there are more opportunities to score, but also, they become more careless with the basketball. With all of the information above, I hope we can try to control the pace of basketball in order to maintain the quality of basketball.