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The NBA has made some pretty major changes. And I’m not just talking about this collective bargaining stuff. I’m talking about real rules. Changes to the way the game is played.
Via ESPN.com, vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson confirmed some pretty significant alterations. One of them being that KD’s “rip-move” is pretty much not effective anymore.
The rip move will now be considered a non-shooting foul if the contact happens before a player is into his full shooting motion.
But that’s not it. Another change will affect Russell Westbrook’s reckless attacks on the rim. “Also, on drives to the basket, a shooting foul will be called only if contact occurs after the offensive player has begun his shooting motion, not after he has initiated his leap toward the basket.”
Dwyane Wade just punched a wall.
Also, get ready for Perk to get tossed from a few games. “Referees also will be hyper-vigilant about defenders making contact with offensive players when they’re in the air and fully extended attempting to score. In most cases, expect that kind of foul to draw a Flagrant Level 2, which is two free throws, possession of the ball and the defender being ejected.”
I’ve been a defender of the rip-move for a while, but mainly behind the shield that it was a legal play. Now, it’s kind of not. It still draws a foul on the defender, which is good, but you don’t get the two shots. One thing about the rip-move is that it’s an offensive tactic used to create space. Defenders like Shane Battier and Tony Allen love to crowd Durant so the rip-move was something he could put in the back of their mind to lay off.
Durant has always had a simple approach to the criticism of the move.
“They’ve said it’s a legal play, so I’m going to keep doing it until they tell me I can’t,” Durant said last season. “That’s when I’ll stop.”
This change isn’t about trying to take away an offensive tactic. It’s about watchability of the game. The league is concerned with the amount of free throws being shot each game which slows it down. They want every game play in a little over two hours and so by cutting down on fouls, it’ll speed up the game.
The Thunder though are a team that kind of lives at the free throw line. Durant and Westbrook were both in the top 10 in free throw attempts per game and the Thunder were second in the league in free throws attempts per game. Oklahoma City got 24.1 points per game from the stripe, leading the league with a team percentage of 82.3.
So these two rule changes will greatly change the way OKC plays. Westbrook’s hard drives at the rim often won’t be rewarded now with two shots and Durant’s rip won’t get him to the line either. It’ll be interesting how this affects everyone but there’s no denying it could hurt the Thunder more than most.