Sunday, August 14 2022

The NBA set out this season to eliminate non-basketball moves – those “overt, abrupt or abnormal non-basketball moves by offensive players with the ball in an effort to draw fouls.”

Those plays, such as a shooter launching himself into a defender sideways or unnecessary leg kicks by the shooter, had become a blight on the game — frustration across the board from executives to coaches to players to fans.

With non-basketball moves adjudicated with a closer eye from referees this season, scoring, free throws and foul shots are down compared to a similar amount of games at the start of last season.

The lower numbers are not dramatic and were expected, and league officials said it has led to a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing game.

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“Overall from the league standpoint, it feels like we’re cleaning it up, and it’s a prettier game as a result,” NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said Tuesday.

Spruell, senior vice president and head of referee development and training Monty McCutchen and executive vice president of basketball strategy and analytics Evan Wasch met with four reporters on a Zoom call Tuesday following the league’s competition committee meeting.

Trae Young has complained that "guys are going to get hurt" because of the new emphasis on non-basketball moves.Trae Young has complained that "guys are going to get hurt" because of the new emphasis on non-basketball moves.

Trae Young has complained that “guys are going to get hurt” because of the new emphasis on non-basketball moves.

The league expected some offensive numbers to decline. Shooting fouls are down by 2½ per game, free throw attempts down by six per game and scoring down about four points per game.

It’s just a small sample size so early into the season, but the league likes the direction.

While the league isn’t targeting specific players, there were some players who employed non-basketball moves more than others: Atlanta’s Trae Young, Brooklyn’s James Harden, Golden State’s Steph Curry and Dallas’ Luka Doncic.

“Our players are the best in the world at making adjustments,” McCutchen said. “We don’t see any reason why it won’t be the case here either.”

Young, who has talked with McCutchen to learn more, expressed his frustration at the officiating following Atlanta’s loss to Washington last week.

Young averaged 9.3 free throw attempts in 2019-20 and 8.7 last season. He’s at 4.9 this season. Harden is shooting 5.3 foul shots per game, his lowest average in a decade (he was at 11.8 per game during the 2019-20 season).

“Veering back and jumping into guys, that’s different,” Young said. “There are certain things that I agree with 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.”

Spruell acknowledged the topic of increased physicality was addressed with the competition committee.

“We’re monitoring and listening to the feedback but not seeing any increase in the data of that physicality,” Wasch said.

Non-shooting fouls are actually up by a ½ per game and review of each game does not show an increase of incorrect no-calls, Wasch said.

“There have been a few instances — nothing that rises to a significant level — where we would still want a defensive foul where it’s getting lumped into a non-basketball move. We’re in the middle of that adjustment,” McCutchen said. “To be clear, we love where the game has been from a freedom of movement perspective over the last few years and we do not want to give that up in anyway.”

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA likes elimination of non-basketball moves, but some stars cry foul

Source: Yahoo Sports

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