Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

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Old 03-14-2019, 01:22 PM   #9
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Re: Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

There are over 1200 games played in every NBA season. Picking out a few and pinpointing sequences doesn't encapsulate an era.

The NBA has been legalizing physicality out of the game for decades now. The unofficial physicality rankings by era follows a neat pattern:

1946-49> 1950s> 1960s> 1970s> 1980s> 1990s> 2000s> 2010s

So why are the '80s referred to as the best brand of basketball ever played? The most physical? It is mostly because young veteran fans came of age at this time. The truth is that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson didn't invent the game.

The creator of this particular Youtube video seems to be a younger guy. Could his own ego be at stake here in believing today's game is the 'best'?

It was harder to get to the rim in the half court in the old days. Hand-checkers could play a tad farther off and stifle drives while flicking a hand at your jumper. Today's defenses are much more complicated than ever though to make up for the futility of playing effective man to man contain defense. Both styles can be almost equally effective.

LeBron is so big, strong, and skilled that he would put up highly respectable numbers whenever he played. Giannis' lack of an accurate perimeter shot would hurt him in the old days. The Greek Freak does lack some core strength which means he could be bumped about five feet further out than he is nowadays. When he enters the lane his too-high dribble could be sniped at for profit.

If Jordan were playing now his assists would likely skyrocket because of the necessity of double teaming and jamming his lane penetrations. It is unlikely but not entirely out of the realm of possibility that he could average 40 ppg.

Fans need to understand that teams don't really use pure zone or man to man. Combinations are used. A team gets into zone activities when two defenders trade assignments by calling a "switch" or by dropping back to give a poor shooter room to fire away. That has been going on forever and is nothing new.

"They better do something quick. Defense near the basket is hand to hand combat especially away from the ball. It's only a matter of time till someone gets killed. As much as I hate to say it, it's true. -- Anonymous coach, circa 1977

"Zones are punishable by a warning and then a technical foul but 'position defenses' are allowed." -- John Nucatola, Hall of Fame referee, 1979

"The referees are very inconsistent about calling zones. Most refs don't have the guts to make the call." -- Hubie Brown, Atlanta Hawks Coach, 1978

"Look, fellas, I know that both of your teams play a lot of exotic defenses. Well, tonight I am not going to penalize either of you if you do play them." -- Richie Powers, lead official, pre-game, March 1 1978

To beat these defenses the dribbling must be curtailed and lots of man movement must be used. Overloading an area and then quickly reversing the ball will usually generate good results.

It is true that long-range shooting can shred a zone defense but usually not consistently enough to win a title. The Knicks of 69-73 and the current editions of the Warriors are the exceptions to this rule.

Last edited by AlexBrady; 03-14-2019 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:37 PM   #10
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Re: Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

Originally Posted by ehh
This is one of the things that irked me the most about the video. Acting like help defense was non-existent back in the day. Way too many cherry-picked clips.
Ironically..the first couple of minutes showcased those same signature physical plays that folks use to showcase how much more physical the NBA was in comparison...as if they were every play occurrences...
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:31 PM   #11
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Re: Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

Originally Posted by ehh
I watched it this morning after seeing it on Reddit. Some of his points are valid, I think he makes some strawman arguments, and these videos always include cherry-picked examples.
Definitely cherry picked examples and still to a degree on his end ignoring some of the middle ground. I don't know who the creator is, his age and all that, but seems as if his tone is more so in response to people who are cherry-picking their examples in the opposite direction as well. He does make some decent points along the way, and I'm glad clips were at least included as a reference because the ones we typically see try to paint the picture of a brawl every single night. Many of which will just allude to hard fouls on Jordan from Detroit, ignoring the abundance of wide open finishes he would get as well.

He may very well just be young and trying to prove a point though.

Some of the hand-checking examples were hilarious though: the first one where Willie Anderson straight up shoves MJ's left shoulder when he starts his drive. The announcer may have called it a hand-checking foul but that's not what people are generally talking about when it comes to hand-checking. It's lower, near the hip, and it's more subtle; you have never been able to shove a guy off-balance in the neck/shoulder area on a drive.
Absolutely, the main reasoning for my first post was more so in reference to people who treat those situations like the bolded text above. Or those who act like a real "hand check" had that type of effect on player movement.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:10 PM   #12
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Re: Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

Iím old school as it gets. Iím watching the Lakers & Raptors and literally no one is in the paint. Itís just so weird to me. I canít remember the last time I watched an entire game. However, Iíll readily admit the average player today is far better than the average player years ago. There are very few players that defenses can ignore like there were years ago. Offensive ability is dramatically better. There are guys who were major starters years ago who I canít imagine being on teams today. Mark Eaton? Oakley? Ben Wallace? The game requires far more skill today. The older rules allowed less talented but physical teams to be successful. Wouldnít happen today.

Having said all that I prefer the STYLE of play years ago. Iíd never argue for any of those teams to beat modern ones but I enjoyed the game more. The players are better though today and the rules allow more of them to shine.

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Old 03-16-2019, 03:16 PM   #13
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Re: Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

He clearly cherry picked so much here that made the video really not worth the time.
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Old 04-01-2019, 06:22 PM   #14
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Re: Handcheck Defense vs. Zone Defense: Which really made scoring harder?

If facing great interior defenders, the vast majority of modern players trying to score in the post would have a really hard time with the handcheck rule in play.

Come playoff time, they would become depressed with the referees swallowing their whistles 98% of the time both in off-ball and on-ball post action.

But then again, today's game lacks in post play if compared to older eras.
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