This NBA season has been the first with an overhaul on sets of rules regarding shooting fouls, and how offensive players try to draw them. Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s vice president of referee development and training, told Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck: “The league knows teams are always searching for the most efficient ways to score. That means plenty of corner 3-pointers, layups, and free throws. It’s only natural that players would seek out contact, particularly on shots from beyond the arc, if they continue to earn trips to the charity stripe.”

McCutchen wants to balance out the ability of a defensive player to compete with passion with an offensive player who can compete with that same level of passion.

The goal, as stated by McCutchen is to make sure that players are only able to make basketball-centered moves to draw fouls. You can no longer run into defenders with the sole purpose of drawing a foul, and no longer jump into the defender’s air space as you shoot in an attempt to draw a foul.

Pelicans players give rave reviews to NBA's revised interpretation of non- basketball, foul-drawing moves | New Orleans Pelicans
Photo by NBA.com

And these new rules have resulted in a different NBA climate. The basketball played seems to be much different, especially when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. These new rules have contributed to the drastic decrease in both team points per game and offensive rating.

Last year, the league average for offensive rating was 112.3 and the average for points per game was 112.1. Now that has reduced to a league average of 107.2 in both categories. In points per game, this is the lowest the league average has been since the 2017-2018 season. For offensive rating, this is the lowest it has been since the 2015-2016 season.

The new rule changes have not resulted in a significant drop in the creation of fouls themselves, but the number of free throws attempted per game has dropped by 1.9. This means at least one foul per game that was called last season is no longer a foul, which seems to be good evidence of the new rules being successful and implemented at the beginning of this season.

It has also impacted specific players such as James Harden and Trae Young, who were the poster boys for their exploitation of the rule in previous seasons.

James Harden Won't Like the NBA Tinkering With Shooting Foul Definitions
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the case of Harden, we have seen his free throws attempted per game drop from 7.3 last season to this season, where he now averages just 4.6 free throws nightly. The lack of free-throw attempts is a factor in his points per game average has dropped by 6.3 points.

When it comes to Trae Young, he has had to adapt to the new rules. His free-throws attempts per game have dropped by 3.2, but he has combatted that with an increase of 3.3 per night.

The NBA will have to react to the results of the new rules over the next season, and the league will get to take the offseason to go over and change the new rules.

By Myst