NBA players have always gone to extreme lengths to draw fouls, but the 2020-21 season was perhaps the most egregious yet. More and more players stopped dead in their tracks on drives hoping for defenders to foul them from behind. Others found different ways of initiating contact in the hopes of drawing whistles. The problem was so widespread last season that the NBA is now taking action against the practice in order to give defenders a fair chance at getting stops.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA plans to implement new rules to reduce the number of fouls drawn on non-basketball moves. He is reporting that officials will be trained to identify non-basketball moves, including:
- Offensive players launching into defenders.
- Offensive players abruptly veering off of their path.
- Shooters kicking their legs out at abnormal angles.
- Offensive players using their off-arm to hook the defender.
If the contact on these plays is deemed marginal, according to Charania, they will not be called for fouls on either side, but if the “offensive player’s contact impacts the defender’s speed, quickness, balance, or rhythm,” offensive fouls can be called on them as well.
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This is obviously a substantial change from the sort of officiating we are used to seeing in the NBA. The difference between NBA officiating and the way games are called in the rest of the world has been noticeable as Team USA has attempted to adjust to FIBA rules. American stars haven’t gotten the calls they have grown used to in the NBA while playing against top international talent. Now, the entire league will have to adjust to this new reality. It is going to be harder than ever to draw fouls next season, and that will force offensive players to seek out other methods of scoring.