Like every sport, basketball needs to evolve with the times to ensure it stays relevant. Once a game’s target audience starts to feel let down, you know it’s essential to switch things up. At the start of the 2021/22 season, the NBA decided to implement new regulations to try and make games more even, and, therefore, more exciting for fans.
When Dennis Rodman admits he finds the sport hard to watch, something new is required. Since the rules have already come into effect, it’s now beginning to become clear whether they have been effective. After all, we’re a couple of months into the regular season. So, what are the repercussions of the rule changes so far?
Fewer Free Throws
The biggest rule change revolves around “foul-hunting.” Athletes being athletes, they search for any advantage possible, which has led to several pro basketballers throwing themselves into defenders to draw fouls in the past couple of years. For viewers, the process can be annoying since there isn’t much a defender can do to prevent giving away free throws.
What this means is that referees are less likely to award fouls for moves that are considered “non-basketball moves.” A direct impact is the number of free throws for the NBA’s top players. For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo has an average of 8.6 free throws per game so far this season, compared to 9.5 in the last campaign. 9.5, by the way, was the most for any player. It’s not coincidental that the Milwaukee Bucks, the current champions, are struggling to hit the same form – they are 31-21 after 52 games – with fewer easy points for the Greek Freak.
Certain ballers are hurt by the rules more than others. For example, the likes of James Harden and Steph Curry love to get to the line and draw fouls. Harden, especially, isn’t happy with the changes because they are harming his performances quite significantly with only 4.5 free throws per game, which is a dramatic drop from last season.
However, Curry has used the regulations to sharpen his skills, particularly in the three-pointer category. By December of 2021, a couple of months into the new season, The Golden State Warriors shooting guard hit a three-pointer for the 158th consecutive game, an NBA record. Curry did already hold the record, meaning bookies for online sports betting in NJ to PA weren’t surprised when he surpassed the old number. Still, bettering his three-point legacy during a season when the rules weren’t supposed to help his performances shows how adaptive Curry is on the court.
Another small adaptation to this season’s play is for the coaches. During the final two minutes of games, it’s down to the men on the sidelines to decide whether to make out-of-bounds challenges. Initially, the officials did this automatically, making it easier for coaches to focus on calling plays and rotating players.
However, with more emphasis on the people running the playbooks, it’s bound to make it tougher to spot mistakes. This will inevitably lead to more errors from the coaches themselves, yet it should also make the action exciting from the audience’s point of view. The viewers will never know when a coach will challenge a call until they do it officially.
Hopefully, the final effect of the rule changes will be to make the game better to watch since there will be fewer annoyances, such as interruptions and players feigning fouls.