Thursday, 23 May 2024

NBA Storylines: Pacers Among 5 Most Improved Offenses

When it comes to competing for an NBA championship, defense is often considered the more critical factor. However, recent seasons have shown that offensive efficiency plays a crucial role in a team’s success. The Denver Nuggets, for example, won the championship last season despite ranking 15th in defense. This season, winning percentage has shown a stronger correlation to offensive efficiency than defensive efficiency.

Considering this, let’s take a closer look at the most improved offenses in the NBA compared to last season.

Biggest Jump in Points Scored Per 100 Possessions

The Indiana Pacers have made the most significant leap in offensive performance. Last season, they ranked 21st offensively, but this year they have climbed to the 14th spot before losing Tyrese Haliburton to injury. This improvement is particularly impressive, with the Pacers’ points-per-possession increase being nearly double that of any other team.

  • It starts with Haliburton: Tyrese Haliburton has been instrumental in the Pacers’ offensive improvement. Even when accounting for the team’s pace, Haliburton has shown significant jumps in points and assists per 100 possessions. He has also improved his scoring efficiency (true shooting percentage) and playmaking effectiveness (assist/turnover ratio). Haliburton currently leads all players with at least 200 field goal attempts in true shooting percentage (66.6%) and has the highest assist/turnover ratio (4.80) for a player averaging at least 10 assists per game in the last 34 years.

Other players like Aaron Nesmith and Obi Toppin have also made notable strides in their shooting efficiency, helping the Pacers improve their effective field goal percentage. Additionally, the team has managed to reduce their turnover rate while playing at a faster pace. Their assist/turnover ratio ranks among the highest in NBA history.

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The Pacers have benefited from a relatively easier schedule against weaker defensive teams. However, they face a challenging matchup against the Washington Wizards, the league’s 30th-ranked defense, followed by a clash between the league’s best offense and best defense in the Minnesota Timberwolves (first meeting this season).

Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks have also seen significant offensive improvement this season. Adding Damian Lillard to their roster has provided a boost, even though his shooting numbers may not be as impressive as in previous seasons.

The Bucks have experienced a drop in offensive rebounding but have shown substantial improvement in effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, and turnover rate reduction. Their success primarily comes from their half-court offense, with a relatively low percentage of points scored on fast breaks or second-chance opportunities.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a key factor in the Bucks’ offensive efficiency, achieving the most efficient scoring season of his career. His true shooting percentage and scoring in the paint have been exceptional, contributing to the team’s success.

The Bucks have faced more bottom-10 defenses than top-10 defenses due to their early-season schedule. Their upcoming games against the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets will provide opportunities to validate their offensive prowess against stronger defensive opponents.

Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets have made significant improvements on the offensive end after ranking last in offensive performance last season.

The team’s most substantial improvement has come from their 3-point shooting, with the second-largest jump in 3-point percentage in the league. The additions of Miles Bridges and Brandon Miller, along with Terry Rozier’s bounce-back shooting performance, have contributed to this improvement. Interestingly, the Hornets have actually scored more efficiently with LaMelo Ball off the floor, even though he has played a greater percentage of minutes compared to last season.

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Although the Hornets still have progress to make to reach their offensive peak, their improvement from last season is promising.

Philadelphia 76ers

Despite losing one of the best offensive players in the league, the Philadelphia 76ers have shown offensive improvement this season.

The Sixers have experienced a drop in effective field goal percentage but have made up for it with improvements in offensive rebounding, free throw rate, and free throw percentage. Joel Embiid’s offensive rebounding percentage is the highest of his career, and Paul Reed has played a more consistent role in securing second-chance points.

The team ranks highly in both free throw rate and free throw percentage, with their key players shooting exceptionally well from the line.

The Sixers have faced several bottom-10 defensive teams consecutively, winning convincingly against the Detroit Pistons. Their upcoming games against the Pistons and Charlotte Hornets will further test their offensive capabilities.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder had the most improved offense last season, and while this season’s improvement may not be as substantial, it is still noteworthy.

The Thunder have seen a drop in offensive rebounding but have made significant strides in shooting efficiency. They have recorded the league’s biggest increase in 3-point percentage and have also improved their mid-range shooting.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been outstanding, particularly in his pull-up shooting, while the addition of a rookie has further boosted their shooting efficiency.

The Thunder have faced a relatively balanced mix of defensive teams, with a near equal number of games against top-10 and bottom-10 defenses.

Upcoming matchups against the Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets will provide a good test for their improved offense.


  1. Which teams have made the most significant offensive improvements in the NBA?

    • The Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Oklahoma City Thunder have shown the most significant offensive improvements compared to last season.
  2. Who is the key player driving the Pacers’ offensive improvement?

    • Tyrese Haliburton has been crucial in the Pacers’ offensive improvement. He has shown significant jumps in points and assists per 100 possessions, scoring efficiency, and playmaking effectiveness.
  3. What areas have the Bucks improved offensively?

    • The Bucks have improved their effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, and turnover rate reduction. Their success primarily comes from their half-court offense, with a relatively low percentage of points scored on fast breaks or second-chance opportunities.
  4. How have the Hornets improved their offensive performance?

    • The Hornets have made significant strides in 3-point shooting, with the second-largest jump in 3-point percentage in the league. The additions of Miles Bridges and Brandon Miller, along with Terry Rozier’s improved shooting, have contributed to this improvement.
  5. Have the 76ers improved offensively despite losing a key player?

    • Yes, the 76ers have shown offensive improvement despite losing a key player. They have compensated for a drop in effective field goal percentage with improvements in offensive rebounding, free throw rate, and free throw percentage.
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The Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Oklahoma City Thunder have all shown remarkable offensive improvement this season. These teams have made significant strides in various aspects of their offensive game, such as shooting efficiency, scoring consistency, and offensive rebounding. Key players like Tyrese Haliburton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have played instrumental roles in their respective teams’ offensive success. Although the Pacers lead the pack in offensive improvement, all five teams have the potential to make a significant impact in the league with their newfound offensive prowess.

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