Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s vice president of referee development and training, said Tuesday afternoon that he’s pleased with the league’s progress toward eliminating foul calls on non-basketball moves.
He added that his officials are still working to strike the right balance between not calling fouls on those non-basketball moves and missing some defensive fouls, and that the league is still committed to offensive players not being held and grabbed — what the league refers to as “freedom of movement.”
“The referees have done an excellent job,” McCutchen said on a conference call with a handful of reporters after a meeting of the league’s competition committee earlier Tuesday. “I think in any of this, there’s some adjustment period on the shooting foul itself, as to what constitutes the things we’re asking.
“There’ve been a few instances, nothing that’s raised to a significant level, where we would still want a defensive foul where it’s getting lumped into a non-basketball move. We’re in the middle of that adjustment period with the staff. We have staff calls at a higher cadence than we would when we’re not implementing something as significant as this, and we’re showing them examples so that we can adjust in real-time to meet the demands of the league.
“But to be clear: We love where the game has been from a freedom of movement perspective over the past few years, and we do not want to give that up in any way, and the directive will be, and will continue to adjust on my end, that we continue to keep that freedom of movement in place.”
Before the season began, the NBA — and specifically McCutchen — made it clear in a series of presentations that the league’s emphasis this year was to eliminate “non-basketball moves” — ones the league has deemed to be “abnormal, abrupt or overt” — from the game. The result has been a decrease in scoring, fouls and free throws per game and a near elimination of those kinds of plays being called as fouls through the opening two weeks of the season.
At the same time, there’s also been a perceived increase in physicality on the court — one that players have, at various points, voiced frustration over. League officials, however, said the data doesn’t support the players’ argument.
I just hope the NBA stays strong with this new direction until it’s solidified as a part of the game. We cannot go back to the rules of the past where guys like Harden, Trae Young and Luka would be going to the free throw line for some of the most ridiculous bullshit ever seen.