George Karl and Daryl Morey agreed that you cannot play a slow pace in today's NBA in a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Defenses are just too good, they said, with Morey citing Tom Thibodeau's ability to smother teams deep in the shot clock. The data show clearly that early scores are vital.
Morey discussed the different use of Dwight Howard by the Houston Rockets. Stan Van Gundy ran set plays for Howard when he was with the Orlando Magic, but he is getting the ball with the Rockets in unpredictable situations and scoring efficiently.
A quick-hitting, fast-thinking attack wins.
Morey recalled reports the Rockets use to run on the effectiveness of different plays called by then-head coach Jeff Van Gundy was with Houston. Above all the set plays was a play categorized as Random, when a play call broke down and a random screen was set to free up a scorer. This was the most effective play.
Karl thought back to the time after the Denver Nuggets acquired Raymond Felton. Karl said he thought Felton was perhaps his best guard at the time but Lawson had the starting job. So to improve Denver's ability to make fast decisions, Karl played them together. Karl believes this may have started a trend in the league of a two-point guard offense.
The panel discussed fouling up three in the closing seconds. Even though the numbers support taking the foul, it's not done widely. Karl cited a lack of devoted practice time to making sure teams can execute a two-shot foul.
Morey said you should win the game almost always either way, but cited coaches wanting to show confidence in their defense to stop the three, or just the embarrassment factor of not wanting to give up the three-point foul. Kobe Bryant was named as one of the best at anticipating the intentional foul and getting off an attempt from behind the arc as the contact is made.