Applying the Ugly Index to the 2008 Finals
After watching an NBA Hardwood Classic from the 1970s I was shocked at the low quality of play. It was an almost unwatchable brand of basketball (missed shot, turnover, turnover, missed shot, foul).
After seeing that, I created the "Ugly Index" as a way to compare the quality of basketball played in any given era. The Ugly Index adds up all the things that make a game ugly (missed field goals, turnovers, and personal fouls) and divides them by the thing that makes a game entertaining (points scored).
I applied the measurement to every NBA season from 1973 to the present. Here were my results. As I suspected, the worst basketball was played just before the NBA-ABA merger when the Ugly Index hit its high of 0.90, and the best was played in the mid 1980s when the UI average dipped below 0.80.
According to the Ugly Index, the 2008 Finals have been fairly well played, but they have come up way short of the Bird-Magic Finals we were yearning for (those Finals had a beautiful Ugly Index average of 0.68). The average for this year's Finals has been 0.83, slightly uglier than this season's NBA average of 0.81, but not awful.
The best games have been the ones played in Boston. Game 1 had an Ugly Index mark of 0.75, and Game 2 was a return to the 1980s with an Ugly Index of 0.71. Game 3 was the worst with a mark of 0.99, but it turned out to be an aberration as the level of play has bounced back in the next two games with a 0.87 Index for Game 4 and a 0.85 Index for last night's Game 5. So things are moving back in the right direction.