“Non-Basketball Maneuvers” | Rule Changes

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Updated: August 9, 2021
trae cheap foul

Something that has gone overlooked in the last handful of seasons in the NBA. It is the ideology around drawing fouls, especially out on the perimeter. Only a few years ago, the non-organic motion of throwing one’s body to the left, right, forwards, or backward into a defender was seen as a cheap foul. Particularly since, this foul would result in 3 free throws for the shooter who had manufactured these points, rather than actually taking the shot. At its worse, the heave the shooter takes to create the 3 free throws goes in, and we’re looking at a 4-point play. Over these last two seasons, these tactics have been not only normalized but praised. Unfortunately, the perceptions surrounding sports tend to be dictated by results, and as all the top perimeter shooters adopted these “non-basketball maneuvers,” it was deemed “smart” or “crafty.” A move that anyone watching knows with their eyes that something is wrong, while the man with the ball throws his body into a defender resulting in a foul, even though it clearly looks like an offensive. Next time down the court, the defender is forced to give up space in fear of a cheap foul and 3 free throws at the line.

Thankfully the rules have changed. These “non-basketball” movements will no longer be called a defensive foul and will result in “no-calls,” or even offensive fouls if the action is seen as deliberate and excessive. With all the hype around the new Lakers and all the offseason sign and trades, the most overlooked and possibly best acquisition of this offseason will be shared by all the 30 teams, and it’s the rule which should restore order to the force.

 Defensive Intensity

One of the biggest complaints when comparing eras is defensive intensity. The game has shifted to such an offensive-orientated game, that efforts on the defensive end of the floor are seen almost as a specialty weapon, rather than a requisite. The postseason exposes this fact to full transparency, that the effort in the regular season on defense is almost non-existent. One of the silent killers on defense has been these cheap fouls created on the perimeter. Young players who are trying to earn minutes on the floor are matched up with a tier-one scorer in the NBA and are amped for the opportunity. They press up, pick up the All-Star in the backcourt…but instead of the scorer showing his supreme abilities, out of frustration for the “over-effort,” he throws his body forward for a 3-point play at the line. This rule change may make a shift in the importance of defense in the upcoming seasons. Better offense has always beat good defense, but the balance between the arts has swayed so far in the offensive’s favor, many players simply “conserve” their energy on defense. Hopefully, all of this will begin to change.

Game Time to Real Time

The length of games in real-time has become absurd. A lot of that has to do with the instant replay which appears to be staying and can be discussed at a later date. But one thing is certain, is the excessive amount of free throws created by certain types of players is bad for the product and the viewing experience. If watching the game live, these cheap fouls and the time spent on the free throws that follow are excruciating. Especially since these types of players often get a couple of them a quarter, it feels like we all are just living at the line. With the potential for being called for an offensive foul, this should reduce the amount of fouls not only called but attempted behind the arc, resulting in fewer free throws and more shots made.

Big Shot Makers

Probably the least talked about variable in this equation, is what these new “crafty” tactics have done to the psychology of the shooter. In a big moment down the stretch of the game, with 2 minutes left on the clock, “getting to the line” has always been seen as the most effective strategy for manufacturing points in crunch time. That use to be synonymous with getting to the basket and creating contact at the rim, however, now players are attempting to create this contact beyond the arc. We have the greatest shooters in the world, bringing the ball up, down 2, and instead of trying to make a big shot, they are throwing their bodies into the defense hoping the refs will bail them out.

The deep ball from 30 is the new slam dunk and we are being robbed of huge shot attempts which probably would’ve been taken if not for this new custom of “creating contact.” Now with the new rule change, hopefully, this tactic will become obsolete, and players will either need to get themselves to the rim or take the sniper shot from distance. This is what we all want to see. Top tier scorers in crunch time attempting to bury their opponent with the shot. Games may have looked entirely different if the league would’ve changed this rule 2 years ago when the problem started to get out of hand, but better late than never. Hopefully, a new brand of basketball is on the cusp of being born, one in which defensive effort is rewarded, and big shots are taken.

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