Monday, August 15 2022

When the NBA adopted new rule changes this offseason regarding foul calls, it was an attempt to address what had become a league-wide issue. Still, it was clear from the beginning that the new method of officiating was going to impact some players much more than others. 

That fact was so clear to everyone that the league might as well have named the new rules after Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young. Unsurprisingly, both players have had difficulties adjusting to the new normal through the first 10 days of the season. 

Harden and Nets coach Steve Nash have already made numerous comments, and now Young has chimed in as well. Following the Hawks’ loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday night, Young voiced his complaints about how the game is being called. 

“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.”

In the defeat, Young finished with just 15 points and three free throw attempts. Overall, his numbers are pretty similar to last season, but he has seen a major drop-off in trips to the line. Through five games, he’s averaging just 4.4 free throw attempts, which would be the lowest number of his career, and half of what he averaged last season. 

Young added that he has no problem with the rule changes trying to eliminate foul baiting such as players veering into defenders while dribbling or jumping into them with unnatural shooting motions. However, much like Harden, he believes there’s a lot of contact being ignored, and that the pendulum has swung too far. 

“Veering back and jumping into guys — that’s different,” Young said. “There are certain things that, I agree with the rule changes, but then there’s things that are still fouls, and guys are going to get hurt. Especially a smaller guy like me who’s going up against bigger and stronger defenders, they’re using their body and they’re using their legs and their hands to stop me.”

There was one possession in the third quarter where you could clearly see what Young was referencing. 

He crosses over and tries to drive past Aaron Holiday, who bumps him off his path and forces an awkward leaner that Montrezl Harrell blocks. There wasn’t any egregious contact here by Holiday, but it’s the type of play that likely would have been called a foul in the past. 

More broadly, it’s an example of defenders being given more leeway in terms of physicality. Perhaps things will soften a bit as the season goes along, but for now, it appears that Young and Co. will have to get used to this new normal. 



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