It's Official: How and When the NBA Calls Shooting Fouls Will Look Different This Season

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It’s Official: How and When the NBA Calls Shooting Fouls Will Look Different This Season

Chicago Bulls

In June, we learned that the NBA wanted to crack down on some of the unnatural shooting motions that have become an increasing part of the game in recent years. In other words, those plays Trae Young and James Harden seem to love where they throw themselves into a helpless defender to get to the free-throw line.

Fast forward to Thursday, and the NBA officially announced several rule changes to push players away from these “non-basketball moves.” For example, the launching of a shooter into a defender at an abnormal angle will now be deemed an offensive foul. A player will also now be called for an offensive foul if he overtly kicks his leg out to draw contact with the defender. If a player does not appear to purposefully draw this contact, however, yet still hits a defender, the refs will deem it a no-call.

For a better idea of all the new rules, I encourage you to watch the breakdown below. The NBA did a good job laying it all out.

So … what’s the point of these changes?

Well, there is little question the NBA has become an offensive-minded league. Rule changes in years past have only made it harder on defenders, and it has opened the door for some of the pretty drastic “loopholes” we see above. The more the NBA has allowed offensive players to initiate contact with no repercussions, the more the defensive product has weakened. A handful of players likely no longer feel comfortable playing an aggressive brand of basketball on this end of the court, which can often turn a contest into a shootout, thus making the game even less competitive. Not to mention, these rule changes should lead to fewer foul calls overall, which will help speed up the all-around game.

I’m pretty happy with these changes. I never necessarily knocked players for working the system, but I feel like things got far enough out of hand where a change was needed. The question we have to ask now is whether or not this will impact any player in Chicago.

Zach LaVine is not a player who relies heavily on getting the charity stripe, and a lot of the contact he does draw happens at the rim. In fact, LaVine had the second-worst distribution of his shooting fouls last season among players who drew 100+ fouls, per NBA dot com (h/t Owen Phillips, who runs a data-centric newsletter called The F5 and made a great chart on all of this here). Put differently, the significant majority of his fouls happened between 0 and 5 feet from the rim, which is almost big-man-esque.

Now, on the other hand, the recently-added DeMar DeRozan is at the higher end of this spectrum. The former-Spur ranked 7th in the distribution of shooting fouls among players with at least 100+ fouls last season. As a midrange and pick-and-roll king, he has drawn his fair share of fouls 10-15 feet out from the basket. His ability to do this helped him reach 7.2 FTAs per game last season, which was his highest mark since the 2016-17 season and 9th in the NBA.

With that said, I don’t necessarily think any kind of major step back in his FTAs this season would be due to this rule change as much as it would be a lack of ISO scoring opportunities. While he may not be able to catch players on a pump fake as much as he used to, he still has strong enough positional size and craftiness to force the opposing player into some trouble.

What about the rest of the roster, you ask? Eh, they all kind of stink at getting the free-throw line, which is a problem within itself. But at least these rule changes won’t hurt much!



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.