How the NBA’s “points of emphasis” have affected stats (with graphs)

If you haven’t noticed already, the NBA has cracked down on moving screens, time between made baskets, and extra steps with the ball. The first two were explored before the season by the one and only Zach Lowe at Grantland while whistles for traveling have appeared more frequently than usual, especially when a player shuffles his feet before using his dribble.

There have been slight upticks in stats where the “points of emphasis” would affect: fouls, turnovers, and free throws:


It’s worth noting that the overall pace of the game has increased from last season’s 92.0 to 94.7, according to Basketball-Reference. Still, free throw rates have increased. So too have three-point rates. Teams aren’t shooting that much more efficiently, if at all, so the uptick in threes make the stats in the graph above a bit more meaningful than they appear.

But we’re also only about a month into the season, a time where sloppy play with new teammates isn’t surprising. Teams have noticeably adjusted after the first couple weeks to delay of games, creating some hilarious GIFs like Kyle Oquinns in the process. If we factor that in, plus what the statistics were like last year through November 22, the difference is less large:


Same goes for free throw rates and threes, though the frequency in three-pointers increased in 2013 while it’s gone down slightly over the last two weeks.

I remember 2011 being the year technical fouls were handed out like every player was Rasheed Wallace, but after a month or so the bickering between players and referees was back to normal. It doesn’t seem like the league will lay off its points of emphasis this season. Delay of games seem to be called less frequently, but more because teams have adjusted. We’ll see if they adjust to screens and traveling violations and if the stats reflect what the league has chosen to crack down on this season.

All statistics are from unless noted otherwise.

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