The Toronto Raptors erased a 16-point deficit to defeat the woeful Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night and are getting ready to face a good Atlanta Hawks team on Thursday.
During an appearance on Prime Time Sports on Wednesday, Dwane Casey took a break from the Raptors to discuss the evolution of the game over the years.
Casey, who has been around the block — from playing at Kentucky in the ’70s to his spot behind the bench with the Seattle SuperSonics in the early ’90s, and his role coordinating the Dallas Mavericks’ defence en route to a title in 2011 — has as good a sense as anyone as to what’s changed.
Casey says the fans are being treated to a more exciting brand of basketball.
“I do think the game today is so much more pleasant to watch as a fan,” said Casey. “[The game is] more exciting with the dunk shot available, with the three-point shot available… I think it’s a much better game now.”
In the 1979-80 season, teams averaged three three-point attempts a game — last year they averaged 22. The 1981 championship Boston Celtics team shot 241 three-pointers that season. Stephen Curry shot 242 three-pointers after all-star break last year.
But as Casey explained, although the level of entertainment has gone up, the actual quality of basketball has gone down. He believes if the no-dunk rule that existed during his college days were in place now, it would force players to focus on fundamentals.
“Back in my day at Kentucky, coach Hall’s rule was if you shot a layup and didn’t use the backboard you had to go up to the top of the coliseum and touch the wall,” said Casey. “So it would [force players to work on fundamentals].”
That’s something LeBron James and Kobe Bryant might be in favour of as last January both players bemoaned the fact young players lack fundamentals.
“AAU basketball,” Bryant said. “Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It’s stupid. It doesn’t teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don’t know how to post. They don’t know the fundamentals of the game. It’s stupid.”
As for the Raptors, they have a big stretch games ahead of them against the Hawks, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls — any of which they could realistically see again in the playoffs.