Sports | June 15, 2021 12:00 pm

NBA May Change Rules to Stop Star Players Like James Harden From Drawing Cheap Fouls

The rules could stop Harden and his peers from leaning backwards or sideways to initiate contact with a defender

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets reacts after a foul
James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets reacts after a foul.
Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty

Per ESPN’s top NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is mulling rule changes that would place restrictions on the unnatural motions players are using to draw cheap fouls while taking jump shots.

Specifically, the NBA’s competition committee wants to prevent star players like James Harden, Luka Doncic and Trae Young from leaning backwards or sideways to initiate contact with a defender and draw a whistle from a referee.

The competition committee — which is made up of a cross section of owners, general managers, coaches, players and refs — believes the current set of rules makes it too easy for offensive players to get to the line by initiating contact in unnatural and awkward ways.

“There’s a growing belief that many of these maneuvers are contributing to a game where the advantage is slanting too much toward the offense,” per ESPN. “While the concentration of these issues is often focused on star players getting much more usage and exposure with the ball, the league sees this as a universal problem throughout lineups and rosters — not only as an issue for star players.”

After compiling examples of unnatural motions that were used to draw fouls and sharing them with the 30 teams in the league, the competition committee is hoping to select specific plays that will be recommended for owners to vote to eliminate starting next season.

If the changes are approved by vote, the hope is that referees will start implementing changes in how they officiate games at the Las Vegas Summer League in August in advance of the start of the 2021-22 season.