The 2022-2023 NBA season is coming to a close. There is only one full week remaining in the regular season before the playoffs begin, which will end with the NBA Finals in June.

There have been several familiar faces atop the standings. The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are the most notable ones, being they were within the eastern conference’s top-3 last season as well. In the west, the Memphis Grizzlies are right where they were last year as the 2-seed.

Kings of Offense

But things couldn’t be more wild around them. Currently at the 3-seed is the Sacramento Kings, who’ve completely shocked the nation with a solid year. It’s the first time the Kings have been relevant in quite a long time. In fact, most children growing up right now probably had no idea who the Kings were before this season.

But the surprise of the Kings is not what I want to focus on today. Instead, it’s their play-style, and how it’s reflected by the rest of the league and where professional basketball is going as a whole.

Sacramento has not only the best offense in the NBA this year in terms of net rating, but they’re the greatest offense of all time statistically. They’re led by the speedy scoring of De’Aaron Fox and bolstered by the frontcourt presence of Domantas Sabonis. Such a feat is amazing considering the vast amount of prolific offenses in the NBA.

Disregarded Defense

But the Kings also have one of the worst defenses in the league. They currently allow 118 points per game which is the 26th worst rating in the NBA. When watching them play, the explanation is obvious. They simply choose not to play defense, instead putting all of their chips on the offensive end of the floor.

These stats are emblematic of the modern NBA. The Kings’ incredible offensive output countered by their atrocious defense is reflected by teams and players all over the league. This season, we’re seeing more points scored than ever before.

Why is this the case? The most likely explanation is just that players are focusing far more so on the offensive side of the ball now more than ever before. Franchises understand that sensational scoring, including three-point shooting, is what gets attention from fans nowadays. It’s possible they’re actively putting in more effort on offense in order to take advantage of this.

But it could also be that players are simply more talented offensively than in the past. The rise of talent including Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid is forcing teams to disregard defense because they know they can’t stop them.

This boils down to the question of whether a player can become truly unguardable, and I think they can. In the modern NBA, we’re seeing more unguardable players than ever before, resulting in teams shifting their focus away from defense to ways in which they can counter the prolific output themselves.

It’s a strange direction that the NBA is heading in, but it will be interesting to see if defense continues to trend down.