Breaking Down the NBA's Most High-Powered Offenses

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2013

Nov 28, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) drives on Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) during the game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City won 120-98. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In the NBA, defense wins championship but explosive offenses bring us to our feet.

At a time when offense is often valued above all else, the Association has 10 teams averaging 100 or more points per game, and all but nine teams are totaling at least 95.

But while torching opposing defenses is a priority for many, a select few play at near unmatchable levels. Certain attacks continuously score at a blistering rate while playing at just as scorching a pace. 

Such attacks are predicated upon speed, athleticism, endurance and even efficiency, some more so than others.

Which of the league's offenses are the most high-powered of entities? Which are the type of offenses that have itchy-trigger fingers and make no apologies? The genre of assailants that don't take their foot off the gas?

The sort of aggressors that just can't be slowed no matter what?

Putting points the board is far from a rarity in today's Association, but that doesn't mean all offenses stand on equal ground.


Houston Rockets

Houston's defense is regrettable, but its offense is as high-powered as they come.

The Rockets are second in the league in points scored (105.8) per game, fourth in points tallied (109.4) per 100 possessions and first in possessions (96.2) had per 48 minutes. Per, they're also second in fast-break points per game (19) as well.

As the youngest team in the NBA, one would expect Houston to enact an uptempo style of offense, yet James Harden (and even Jeremy Lin) have really heightened the speed at which this team plays. Just ask the Golden State Warriors.

In their most recent victory, the Rockets pummeled the Warriors' defense to the tune of 77 the first half.

Oh, and they also tied the league record (and set a franchise one) for three-pointers made in a single-game with 23.

What Houston is capable of doing with the basketball is truly mesmerizing. Its ball movement is more than adequate and it ranks eighth in the league with 23 assists per game, but its potency is predicated more on speed than anything else.

No one on that team stops running. Ever. Not even the athletically challenged Omer Asik.

Harden and company have actually scored 110-plus points (18) more than they've been been held to fewer than 100 points (17).

How's that for explosive?


Oklahoma City Thunder


I didn't think so.

The Thunder are first in points scored (105.9) per game, first in points dropped (112.4) per 100 possessions and sixth in points scored in transition (16.3) a night.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook anchor one of the most robust attacks the Association currently bears witness to. Their perpetual rim attacks and constant movement devastates opposing defenses to the point of exhaustion.

Oklahoma City has been held to fewer than 100 points just 13 times this season and its margin of victory (8.5 points) is the highest in the league.

Admittedly, the Thunder rank just eighth in pace (93.2 possessions per game), but they score with such effortless explosion and in such excess that they border on unstoppable. Given that they have just four players scoring more than 7.1 points a night, that's incredible.

Yet this isn't a team reliant on depth. Partly because they don't have it, but mostly because they prefer to let their efficient shooting and incisive passing do the winning for them.

And win they have, more than any team not named the San Antonio Spurs.


Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets' defense often makes me sad, but my turmoil is short-lived because of how dominant a point-totaling machine they are.

Denver's finest is third in points scored (104.2) a bout, seventh in points posted (108.7) per 100 possessions and second in possessions (95) used per 48 minutes.

Looking at the players on the roster, some wouldn't hesitate to declare the Nuggets are void of a legitimate superstar. Andre Iguodala in mind, they may still be right. But that absence of a superstar plays to Denver's advantage.


Because the Nuggets have implemented one of the most selflessly high-octane offenses in the league.

Not only are they second in assists (23.8) per night, but they've got six (yes, six) players averaging in double-figures. Their 19.3 points in transition a game are also first in the league.

Much like Oklahoma City, Denver's methodology is one devoted to efficiency in addition to their rate of play. Their 46.8 conversion rate from the floor is fifth in the league. That the Nuggets have been able to be so efficient and score in excess despite hitting on just 33.5 percent (28th) of their three-points is a further testament to their collective agility.

To put that in further perspective, Denver was able to score 112 points in their most recent victory over the Milwaukee Bucks while hitting on just five three-pointers.

The secret?

Movement. Of the feet and the ball. The Nuggets run incessantly and prefer to attack the rim than settle for jump shots.

And he we were thinking that the long-ball was vital to an empowering offense.



Potent offensive attacks are all around us in the NBA. Moving outside the top three the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and even San Antonio Spurs, among others, all come to mind.

But when it comes balancing the offense with movement, explosion and just overall production, it's difficult to surpass the unflappable ingenuity described here.

Each of the aforementioned teams is in the top-three of points scored per game, and the rate at which they play and produce is more than above average.

Denver, Houston and Oklahoma City are all point-totaling powerhouses. Others may rival their performance, but few (if any) can compare to the equilibrium they've established between efficiency, speed and explosion.

*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and unless otherwise noted. 


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