A constant frustration for NBA defenders, coaches, and fans is how often players hunt fouls by leaning or jumping into contact in order to get to the free throw line. Over the years, the NBA’s rules have steadily shifted the game in favor of the offensive player, but as players have been more aggressive in seeking out fouls and often make moves to get that contact unnaturally, there have been calls to adjust how rules regarding shooting fouls are applied to discourage such behavior.
Earlier this season, Steve Nash made headlines after he called out Hawks guard Trae Young saying his foul drawing is “not basketball,” and even Young’s former coach Lloyd Pierce was apparently not a fan of his seeking out of contact in unnatural motions. Young is far from alone, as James Harden’s ability to get himself to the foul line has been a topic of conversation for years — and he ironically now plays for Nash — and plenty of other players have learned one of the fastest ways to getting into rhythm at the line (and to getting opponents in foul trouble) is to get them in the air and jump into them in order to sell the contact.
The league has taken some half measures at times to quell foul drawing efforts, like calling rip through moves on the floor fouls now instead of shooting fouls, but players know once they get the team into the bonus it’s free points to catch a player with their hands out and ripping through — Kevin Durant is the best in the league at it. Apparently the league has heard these concerns and will look into possible rule changes to stop rewarding unnatural motions, namely jumping sideways or backwards into contact, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The NBA has shared a video compilation of player examples with the 30 teams that outlines a number of motions deemed unnatural that used to draw fouls. The NBA and Competition Committee will drill down on specific plays with the league’s GM’s next week to target examples that’ll be recommended to owners to vote to eliminate next season, sources said.
While generally a good idea to try and work to litigate those fouls that pretty much everyone hates out of the game, it does create a bit of dread at the possibility of adding another subjective element to how the game is officiated. Still, most agree that something has to be done and if the league can simply make a mandate that a player jumping sideways or backwards is not a foul, it would seem to be a positive for the game as a whole. We’ll find out later this summer if anything comes of it and what exactly they come up with in terms of verbiage and a full plan for no longer rewarding those plays, but it would make for, if nothing else, a more aesthetically leasing game.