Is defense still an important weapon in NBA?

 Is defense still an important weapon in NBA?There was an old saying a couple of decades ago which sounded like this: ‘Defense wins championships’. Many years this quote was true and the best teams from the league were the ones which discovered the best way to stop their opponents. An example of this type of teams is Detroit Pistons, an organization that was always known for its aggressive game.

But the game of basketball has changed and nowadays the emphasis is almost exclusively on the scoring side. Mike D’Antoni is a coach that played a big role in this shift that appeared in the mindset of the players. The American coach created an offense-oriented system and he implemented it at Phoenix Suns and then at New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Of course, D’Antoni is not the only one responsible for this change of paradigm.

Steph Curry is one player that influenced the game a lot, through his outside shooting. The two-times NBA MVP was becoming a threat from everywhere in the attacking side of the court so the opponents started to shoot more. And the results are visible: every player can shoot from outside the arc, including big men such as Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic or Brook Lopez. Also, the scores in the NBA are crazy, for example, last night, in the contest between Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets, 265 points were scored.

All of that being said, it was surprising two nights ago to see Houston Rockets, Mike D’Antoni’s team, scoring only 80 points against Oklahoma City Thunder. We know that OKC is one of the best teams defensively, but the Rockets has offensive forces such as James Harden, the actual NBA MVP, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, who can still shoot the ball. So, they have no excuses for shooting 11/42 from the three-point line. This was the worst scoring performance by a Mike D’Antoni team in all his career as an NBA coach and the game had the lowest score of the season!

This shows that defense is still important in today’s game and that focusing on this side is not a mistake, but a strategy.

David Istrate,

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