How Removing Hand-Checking Enabled the NBA’s Scoring Explosion
With the NBA completing a record-shattering season, Chad Shanks and Justin Kubatko evaluate reasons that could have led to the league-wide offensive explosion and track the trends back to the banishment of hand-checking.
Listen to the embedded audio and browse through the StatMuse stats mentioned in the episode (data accurate as of the date of publication).
The Record-Shattering 2016–17 Season
In addition to Russell Westbrook breaking the record for most triple-doubles in a season by a player, the league overall had 117 triple-doubles in 2016–17, shattering the previous record of 78 from 1988–89.
There were also 110 instances of a player scoring 40+ points in a game, trailing only the 1961–62 season where Wilt Chamberlain had 63 such games just by himself.
In addition, 10 different players had a 50-point game this season, breaking the previous record of eight, which was done twice (as recently as the 2015–16 season).
Finally, an NBA-record 13 players averaged at least 25 PPG.
Trending since 2004–05
Several of the league-wide highs (or lows, given the specific stat) have been trending steadily since the 2004–05 season, which is the first year the league started enforcing the hand-check rule, which limits any hand/arm contact a defender can make with an opponent on offense.
Michael Jordan: Could He Really Score 50 with the Hand-Check Rule in Place?
Chicago Bulls Kelly Scaletta Featured Columnist Scottie Pippen declared once that Michael Jordan could score 50 in…bleacherreport.com