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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How a new approach to ‘take fouls’ could make the NBA even more

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (R) in action against Sacramento Kings forward Richaun Holmes (L) during the second quarter of the pre-season NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California, USA, 03 October 2022. EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

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With the 2022-23 NBA season just a few weeks away, one of the major elements to look out for is the way in which referees will be judging and penalising ‘take fouls’. A take foul is one in which the defender does not make a play on the ball “during a transition scoring opportunity or immediately following a change of possession and before the offensive team had the opportunity to advance the ball”. The exception is in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.

The new penalty for such a foul is one free throw, which may be attempted by any player on the offended team in the game at the time the foul was committed, along with continued possession by the offended team.

But the league also hopes that defenders making plays on the ball in those situations leads to exciting plays, whether the gamble leads to the offensive team getting an easy score or results in the defensive team cashing in a turnover.

“Some of our best play at the NBA is defensive basketball. We don’t want to discourage that; in fact, we think this rule will encourage that because now we’re asking you to make a legitimate play on the ball,” said Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s Senior Vice President overseeing referees and training.

“From that standpoint, we think more exciting basketball is on the horizon and these transition scoring opportunities — both defensively and offensively —can be highlight plays. We’ve lost some of that and we think this rule is going to inject that exciting play back into our game.”

He added, “Our players and our coaches, they’re good at their jobs, They’re good at their jobs, because they’re committed at their jobs. They absolutely will stop doing this if we’re consistent in our work, which I fully anticipate us being. They’ll then know how to coach it properly. And therein lies the glory of transition basketball being reinjected into our game.”

Other points of education this season are holdovers from recent years, such as players having freedom of movement in both the post and on the perimeter, setting proper screens, avoiding travels and having “respect for the game” — often meaning not being overly demonstrative toward referees or others when a call doesn’t go their way.

Bench conduct will be more closely monitored as well, after an up-tick in recent years of players standing in their bench areas during play and often encroaching on the sideline or baseline — getting perhaps a bit too close to the action.

“That’s going to be a little bit of a change,” McCutchen said. “We want players on the bench to be able to react spontaneously to exciting basketball play. But it’s important that they not stand the whole game, because now you’re getting into game integrity issues, injury possibility for game participants, we want to eliminate all that.”

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