James Harden drew 122 three-point fouls last year, nearly 80 more than the next closest NBA player. Over the past five years, there’s been no player more adept at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line than Harden, who has led the league four times in that category, including each of the last three seasons.
Harden’s ability to create contact in his shooting motion is a skill, but it’s one that many fans are turned off by. The constant march to the free throw line by Harden is something reviled by many NBA fans and the league took steps this summer to try and keep Harden’s tendencies from spreading around the league.
The “James Harden Rule,” as it’s unofficially referred, was instituted this summer with the idea of keeping players from taking contact and then gathering for a shot. The rule prevents players from being rewarded with a shooting foul if the contact occurs prior to their gather into the shooting motion, thus trying to avoid what essentially become continuation plays beyond the three-point line.
The rule change is understandable, but has created a gray area for officials when it comes to determining when contact occurred relative to the gather in real time. So far this preseason, it has already impacted Harden with what the league has deemed some missed calls and caused him some frustration.