Free Report: 10 Powerful Technical Chart Formations

Offense and Defensive Efficiency of NBA Champions


Defense wins championships.

This is one of the oldest sayings in sports and a philosophy in which some coaches live and die by.  Defense is vital in creating a championship-caliber team but you need to be able to score points as well as prevent points from being scored.

Basketball statistics has evolved in recent years to paint a more accurate picture of a team's abilities on offense and defense. In addition to basic statistics such as a team and their opponent's points scored, field goal percentage and free throw percentage, two statistical metrics that have become a mainstream measurement of performance are offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. A quick overview of the two metrics: 

  • Offensive efficiency provides the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions. It attempts to show how good or how efficient a team is at scoring points.
  • Defensive efficiency provides the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions. In other words, it attempts to show how good a team is at preventing their opponents from scoring points.

So how good does a team need to be in scoring and preventing points to be the NBA champion? Do they need to be efficient at both? Does offense or defense win championships?

Here is an overview of the offensive and defensive efficiency of the two teams competing in the NBA Finals from 2002 – 2012. Also stated are their offensive and defensive efficiency rankings out of the 30 teams in the NBA. The winning team is bolded and highlighted in grey.

Regular season

Teams in NBA Finals

Offensive Efficiency

Offensive Efficiency Ranking

Defensive Efficiency

Defensive Efficiency Ranking

2011-12

Miami Heat

104.3

6

97.1

4

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

107.1

2

100

9

2010-11

Dallas Mavericks

107.6

8

102.3

7

 

Miami Heat

109.3

3

100.7

5

2009-10

Los Angeles Lakers

105.9

11

101.1

5 (tie)

 

Boston Celtics

105.4

13

101.1

5 (tie)

2008-09

Los Angeles Lakers

109.8

3

101.9

5

 

Orlando Magic

107.2

8

98.9

1

2007-08

Boston Celtics

92.6

12

82.8

1

 

Los Angeles Lakers

96.5

4

89.8

9

2006-07

San Antonio Spurs

92.7

5

84.4

3

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

89

17

85

5

2005-06

Miami Heat

92.2

7

89.4

17

 

Dallas Mavericks

94.6

3

88.4

12

2004-05

San Antonio Spurs

91.2

8

82.3

1

 

Detroit Pistons

89.2

17

85

3 (tie)

2003-04

Detroit Pistons

85

19 (tie)

78.7

2

 

Los Angeles Lakers

89.7

6

85.1

11 (tie)

2002-03

San Antonio Spurs

88.1

11 (tie)

83.3

2

 

New Jersey Nets

87

18

81.2

1


Offensive Efficiency Analysis

  • 12 out of 20 teams' regular season offensive efficiency was ranked in the top 10. The lowest regular season ranking to make the NBA Finals belongs to the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons who ranked 19th while scoring an average of 85 points per 100 possessions.
  • Since the 2002-02 season, the team with the best offensive efficiency has never made it to the NBA Finals.
  • Five out of the past 10 NBA champions have beaten their opponents who had a better regular season offensive efficiency.
  • The average offensive efficiency of the past 10 NBA champions is 96.9 while the average offensive efficiency of the losing teams is 97.5.

Defensive Efficiency Analysis

  • 17 out of 20 teams' regular season defensive efficiency was ranked in the top 10. The lowest regular season ranking to make the NBA Finals belongs to the 2005-06 Miami Heat who ranked 17th while allowing an average of 89.4 points per 100 possessions.
  • 14 out of 20 teams were ranked in the top 5 in defensive efficiency in the regular season.
  • Four teams, who finished the regular season with the best defensive efficiency, made the NBA Finals.
  • Four out of the past 10 NBA champions have beaten their opponents who had a better regular season defensive efficiency.
  • The average defensive efficiency of the past 10 NBA champions is 90.3 while the average defensive efficiency of the losing teams is 91.5.
     

Conclusion So does defense win championships? Based on the offensive and defensive efficiency of the teams playing in past ten NBA Finals, having an efficient defense is more important than an efficient offense. With the exception of the 2005-06 Miami Heat, no other NBA team in the past 10 regular seasons has been able to capture the Larry O'Brien Trophy without being in the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Furthermore, the '05-06 Heat and the '10-11 Dallas Mavericks are the only teams to win it all without being in the top 5 in defensive efficiency. However, teams still need to be able to put the ball through the basket. Five of the past 10 champions ranked in the top 10 in both regular season offensive and defensive efficiency.

When deciding who will be crowned as this year's NBA champion, defensive efficiency may be a reliable statistic in helping you make your pick.  

 



Latest Articles


TEAM UP