If you haven't noticed by now, there are many superstars with dramatically lower free-throw attempt numbers. Since the NBA implemented rule changes to discourage disingenious foul-drawing on the offensive end, there have been both complaints and words of support in regards to the new policy from players and media alike.
In our latest Roundtable, we asked our BasketballNews.com writers the following question:
What are your thoughts on the NBA's rule changes and how they've impacted the on-court product?
Alex Kennedy: I love the changes. The NBA recognized that unnatural foul-baiting had gotten out of hand, so they closed some of the loopholes that many of today’s stars had learned to exploit. This season, teams are attempting just 20.0 free throws per game — the fewest in NBA history. I like that there are fewer breaks in the action and games go by quicker too. Also, since players no longer have to worry that every little thing will result in a foul call, defenders are suddenly being more physical and aggressive (which has been fun to watch). This must be so frustrating for stars like James Harden and Trae Young since they are being forced to adjust on the fly and change their entire offensive approach, but I think this had to be done.
Nekias Duncan: I'm mostly fine with the rule changes. I think weeding out some of the non-basketball foul-drawing was a step in the right direction. Allowing a little more physicality defensively has been fun for me. I do think the foul/physicality emphasis may be too far on the other side right now. Instead of just eliminating the tricky stuff, it seems like refs are allowing guys to get mauled in the paint. There's a balance to be found, and hopefully they find it soon.
Spencer Davies: Well, I loved seeing the box score in the high 90s and low-to-mid 100s in the opening weeks. That seems to have changed a little already though. Offense is extremely fun, but there’s a happy medium to be found. (We’re even seeing some hand-checking allowance?) Taking away the obvious “looking for a foul-call because I can’t figure out the defense” hacks has been appropriate. You know whether or not one is genuine. What I don’t like seeing is officials forgetting that defenders leaving their feet to contest a shot is illegal and should be called a foul. In addition, contact on a drive is still contact. Not everybody is trying to trick you. That said, deciphering between the two must be difficult full-speed. It’s a vast improvement, though, I think.
Ethan Fuller: I'm in agreement with most people that the game has given defenders a more level playing field and forced teams to get more inventive on offense. It's good for basketball to reward creativity and keep the ball in play as much as possible. I would add that I think people are unreasonably connecting the changes to an increase in physicality. Unless the officials were told to just keep a tighter whistle in general, I don't know how the rule changes would change the game on that great a scale.
Moke Hamilton: I love it. On the decisive miss in the Timberwolves-Suns games on Nov. 15, D’Angelo Russell got Devin Booker in the air, but would’ve had to launch himself into Booker to draw contact on the game-tying three-pointer. Russell avoided the contact, obviously realizing that he might not get the call. He missed the shot, and the Wolves lost the game by three. But I’m all about games being decided like that. It also encourages defenders to play harder and contest those important shots. I’m happy.