The game has always been changing and should be that way. From dominating big men in the paint during the 70s/80s, to mid-range shooting in the 90s/2000s, to now the heavily reliant 3 point shooting.
Many historical icons have dominated in these eras and even changed the game themselves. But, right now there are too many people that are trying to change the game in the wrong way, and it is killing the NBA and the game itself.
NBA Rules for Foul Merchants
There are some big-name players that are almost always finding themselves at the free-throw line, and not for good reasons. More times than not, they are trying to find new ways to get fouled so that they can get free points, rather than playing the game the right way.
Players who are considered “Foul Merchants” are James Harden, Trae Young, Devin Booker, and Jimmy Butler. These guys are great scorers obviously, but they abuse the current foul rules and oftentimes slow the game down with the fouls they draw.
What’s the Problem?
The problem with the current rules is that it is very offense-oriented. There is almost no way to play defense without fouling someone, because of how bad the refs are and how bad the rules are for defenders. That is why we see so many high-scoring games, because teams are abusing these bad rules and scoring more because of this.
Offensive players are doing all sorts of things to get foul calls, whether it be pump faking and jumping into the defender, or kicking out their legs on a jump shot, or even just side swiping with the ball.
There are two players that are the main culprits for this, Trae Young and James Harden. Harden has always been known for getting these cheap foul calls, but Trae Young has taken it to a whole other level. Young has been to the line 680 times this season and had a ridiculous amount of free throws in these playoffs. Time and time again he was drawing fouls by initiating contact with the defenders.
These foul calls slow down the game and make the game virtually impossible to watch.
How Can They Fix It?
They need to relook at all the rules and eliminate any loopholes first of all. Looking into FIBA rules, all the refs never call the type of petty fouls the NBA refs call. I also think maybe looking into retraining refs so that they know what is and isn’t a foul will go a long way.
In recent years the NBA refs have been atrocious and always miss big calls that they should not have if they had the right training. The NBA announced that they will review the foul calls where offensive players initiate contact, so they are doing something good at least.
Other Problems with Officiating
Problems with officiating have been on full display in these playoffs, whether it be bad calls or missed calls. Something that needs to change is the inconsistency of reviewing calls. There were too many times in the conference finals where the refs would take almost 30 minutes to finish just 30 seconds of game time, because of all the reviews they needed to take.
But if we look back at early quarters in that same game, there were plenty of controversial plays that they did not take their time to review. Clearly, this is something that needs to be fixed because it not only slows down the game but also creates a void of bias amongst referees.
There are a ton of problems with the NBA and their gameplay rules, but I think that if they actually take a look at them this offseason and work to fixing them, it would make the NBA better to watch.