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What is a take foul NBA? The rule explained

The NBA has implemented several new rules for the 2022-23 Regular Season, with the ‘take foul’ being the most noteworthy. Let’s take a closer look!

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes past Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics
Winslow TownsonAFP

With the 2022-23 NBA Regular Season finished and the playoffs up and running, fans are very excited. Yet, there have been some changes to the rules of the game they love, and one, in particular, has sparked some debate. Let’s take a look.

What’s the ‘take foul’ and how has the NBA changed the rules that affect it?

As we mentioned before, the NBA has made a few changes to its rule book for the 2022-23 season, all of which took effect from the opening tipoff. Most notable among them is perhaps the alteration that pertains to what is referred to as the “transition take foul” or, as we commonly know it, the ‘take foul.


As per official league statements, the Association will now impose a heavier penalty when the team on defense commits a transition take foul without making a legitimate play on the ball. To be clear, that can also include when a player gives up on the play by wrapping up or grabbing the offensive player. What’s more, is that it also applies to moments in which defenders are out of position and unable to make a play on the ball.

In terms of what happens when the foul is called? The offensive team will now receive a single free throw, which any player on the team can take. In addition, they will also retain possession of the ball. The only exceptions to this rule occur when the game is in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or during overtime.

What has the NBA had to say about its ‘take foul’ change?

Despite the obvious uproar that the rule change has caused, Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s senior vice president overseeing referees and training, believes it’s not only a positive change but one that accentuates one of the league’s better attributes. “Some of our best play at the NBA is defensive basketball. We don’t want to discourage that; in fact, we think this rule will encourage that because now we’re asking you to make a legitimate play on the ball,” he said. “From that standpoint, we think more exciting basketball is on the horizon and these transition scoring opportunities - both defensively and offensively - can be highlight plays. We’ve lost some of that and we think this rule is going to inject that exciting play back into our game.”

Indeed, McCutchen continued as he explained that it’s simply a matter of time before players and coaches alike become accustomed to the change. “Our players and our coaches, they’re good at their jobs,” McCutchen said. “They’re good at their jobs because they’re committed at their jobs. They absolutely will stop doing this if we’re consistent in our work, which I fully anticipate us being. They’ll then know how to coach it properly. And therein lies the glory of transition basketball being reinjected into our game.”

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown the first to commit a ‘take foul’ under new rules

With the new rules now in effect, the ‘honor’ of being the first player to be penalized under the new system fell to Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Facing the Philadelphia 76ers, Brown lost the ball to Philly’s Tyrese Maxey and then proceeded to grab him in an effort to prevent a fast break. In the video above, one can see a degree of confusion after the foul is called, but ultimately, the rules are the rules.