The NBA’s new shooting rule brings constructive changes to basketball


David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) passes the ball to Meyers Leonard (0) after stealing the ball to Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the third quarter on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla.

Jackson Pollard, Social Media Editor

This off-season, the NBA implemented a new shooting rule to combat foul hunting on jumpshots. This new rule is very big, specifically to the NBA and any basketball players who have NBA aspirations. After a very exciting postseason full of heroic performances and some surprising upsets, this new addition just added fuel to the raging fire that was NBA news after the regular season. 

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, “NBA officiating staffs will be trained to identify and properly rule overt non-basketball actions to initiate contact with defender — such as an offensive player launching into a defender, abruptly veering off path, kicking leg at an abnormal angle or his off-arm hooking defenders. If deemed more than marginal (offensive player’s contact impacts the defender’s speed, quickness, balance or rhythm), the play results in an offensive foul. A no-call should result if the contact is deemed marginal”.

In short this means that the very popular action of leaning into defenders after a shot, frequently used by the likes of NBA stars Trae Young, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard and James Harden will no longer be called a defensive foul. This comes, just a few years after James Harden pretty much jump started the popularization of this action and the rule unofficially called “The Harden Rule”. This was in 2017, the NBA community has been asking for something to address this for over four years now.

After a whole high school career has gone by, we now have a solution. Frankly, this solution has already shown itself to be effective. A table from shows the top ten NBA players by 3-point fouls drawn in the regular season since 2016-2017, with James Harden as a clear leader in this category with 380 fouls drawn. The next closest player is Damian Lillard with just 159, followed by other notable shooters with just over 100 fouls drawn. Over the last five years James Harden has averaged over 10 free throw attempts per game four years straight and just over seven last year. Throughout the 5 games of this 2021-22 season he’s up to a whopping three attempts per game, compared to a total of 50 in the same span of games played last season. 

Now, what does this mean for players training for the NBA and their trainers? We can see from the result of slight rule differences in the Summer Olympics compared to those of the NBA that players were able to adjust pretty easily. Over social media we were able to see players learning how to adjust to said differences. The impact this makes on American basketball consumers is huge. Giving younger fans and players the insight that adjustments have to be accepted just reinforces the positive change coming to the NBA and frankly making the game more fun for players to play, and fans to watch.

If that’s not the ultimate proof of purchase for the NBA, I don’t know how else you can sell the impact of this rule.