New NBA rules drawing mixed reactions from players, coaches
The NBA changed some of its rules to keep offensive players from provoking defenders into fouls. Free throws are down across the league as a result.
This offseason the NBA tweaked some of the rules that have been around the league for ages. Many players and coached have voiced their opinions about the new look league, some are for the changes and others not so much.
The new rules were put in place give the defender a bit more protection. Two of the biggest changes involve offensive players drawing, or provoking fouls on the defensive players.
NBA players are good enough were they can put the opposing defender in a position where they either have to foul, or are put in a disadvantage trying to prevent fouling.
For example, if an offensive player gets the ball and starts running in transition. If the offensive player runs into the path of defensive player and slows down to provoke contact or change the path of the defender that would be called an offensive foul.
Another example is if the offensive player leans into a player to provoke contact on the shot, it’s an offensive foul. This is mostly seen on a shot after a pump fake, where a defender leaves the ground and a player leans into the defender to try to provoke a whistle and a two or three shot foul.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young drained more free throws than anyone else in the league last year, and in the interest of not getting punished by the league lightly stated his disagreement with the way the start of the season has been officiated.
"I don't want to get fined too much, but it's frustrating," Young said. "There's a lot of missed calls. It's basketball. It's just, it feels that they're learning, and they're just -- I don't know. It's frustrating."
He is averaging the lowest amount of free throw attempts of his career, and he is not the only one who’s shots from the charity stripe have take a dip. Damian Lillard’s free throws per game have nearly been cut in half, from 7.2 in 2020/21 to 3.9, and Luka Doncic has seen the number of trips to the line slashed from 7.1 last year to 4.7 this year.
James Harden has mastered the foul provoking pump fake, and lean in, and he has been most one of the most vocal players on the court about his feeling concerning the new rules. On more than a few occasions Harden has immediately gone and pleaded his case to referees after contact from a jump shot on multiple occasions. We will skip over Hardens injury filled last season and look at the 2019/20 season where he was shooting almost 12 free throws per game. That number has plummeted to 5.3 this year.
Kuzma one of the few in favor or new rules
While many aren’t entirely pleased with the new rules, there are some like Kyle Kuzma who went to twitter to applaud the new rules.
Jazz coach Quinn Snyder said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the league will find a balance between enforcing the rules and restricting freedom of movement.”
The entire league is feeling the effects of the new rules. The league average of free throws for a team per game is down almost two free throws, from 21.8 last year to 19.9 this year.
Brooklyn Nets head coach said “I think we’re all just trying to get through this period where we become accustomed to where the line is. I have noticed that you’re allowed to be much more physical with the driver or finisher at the rim.”
Slight dip in FG percentages league wide
The league field goal percentage has taken a hit as well. Last year there was an NBA average of 47% from the field and 37% from behind the arc. This year the league averages are 45% from the field and 34% from downtown.
Milwaukee Bucks George Hill says players can end up looking silly under this new rule, “If I feel like it isn’t just going to be an honest true foul, there’s no point in trying it,” he said. “Because if they don’t call it, you look real stupid.”