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Lockout rust evident all over NBA

Warning…this is not breaking news.

Things are not going well for the Phoenix Suns so far in
the 2011-12 season.

Phoenix is 6-11, has lost three straight home games to
teams (Cleveland, New Jersey and Toronto) with a combined
19-36 record.

You probably thought you’d never hear people talking about
the Suns being unable to score consistently, but that’s
been the case so far. Phoenix’s per game scoring average
is down 12.3 points from last year’s number.

Yet, roster-wise, nothing substantial really has changed
from late last season. So what’s the problem?

Blame the lockout.

It sounds like a lame and convenient excuse, but there
really is something to the work stoppage effecting the
quality of play around the league.

Because the Suns aren’t alone. As of Thursday, 25 of the
league’s 30 teams have seen
decreases in their average points per game from last
season. Twenty-six squads have seen their shooting
percentages drop from last year’s figures.

The Sacramento Kings are currently shooting 39.6% from the
floor on the year. If they stay under 40%,
they’ll be the first NBA team to be under that number
in 52 years.

The Kings, by the way, managed just 60 points in a loss to
Dallas earlier this month, and that’s not even the worst
single-game offensive output of the season. The Orlando
Magic put up 56 points in a 31-point blowout loss to
Boston on just three nights ago. And ten of those points
came on Dwight Howard free throws.

To put that in perspective, Wilt Chamberlain had 23 games
of 56 or more points — in the 1961-62 season alone!

Seven other teams (Toronto, New Jersey, Detroit,
Washington, Charlotte, Memphis and Dallas) have had games
in which they’ve totaled 70 or fewer points.

There haven’t been that many advances in defensive
philosophy and no major rule changes in the NBA since last
June, so it’s got to be the lockout.

Don’t believe me? There was a similar league-wide drop-
off after the lockout of 1998-99. Twenty-four out of 23
out of 29 teams saw a decrease in their field goal
shooting percentage. Three of the teams that saw an
actual increase in their shooting had improvement of less
than half a percentage point.

So the next time the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement
expires (there’s an opt out after the 2016-17 season) and
the league faces a work stoppage, don’t worry about the
splitting of basketball related income or rookie salary
caps or missing games. As fans we should be worried about
what the game will look like on the court when the players

Because as history has shown us, rust and the NBA is not a
mix that is easy on the eyes.