As the games evolves and players devise new ways to gain an advantage by skirting or stretching the rules, the NBA has an obligation to monitor these things closely and update their rule book accordingly.
They are in the process of doing so this off-season to curb tanking and now they are implementing a few new rule changes based on things they saw last season which are affectionately being referred to as the “Zaza Pachulia” and “James Harden” rules.
The first rule gives referees the ability to call a technical or flagrant foul when players have aggressive close-outs on shooters that are dangerously close and could lead to injuries, as you saw in Game 1 of the western conference finals this past season when Pachulia closed out on Kawhi Leonard, leading to an ankle injury.
Flashback 2016/17 : quand Zaza Pachulia a empêché Kawhi Leonard de changer la face des Playoffs https://t.co/twLhf7w0Fr
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) August 30, 2017
This is a great rule addition and that injury could have changed the 2017 NBA Playoffs as the Spurs were well on their way to 1-0 lead against the Warriors in the series on the road.
Officials will be able to review these plays and determine whether it warrants a flagrant or technical foul or whether it is just a common foul.
The second rule change dictates that officials focus on and ensure that a shooter is in his upward shooting motion when determining if a foul warrants free throws, a sneaky edge that James Harden has become a master of (along with a lot of other things).
This is another and even more exciting addition to the rule book in my opinion, because along with the NBA still rewarding flopping, this drives almost any basketball fan insane and cheapens the game a little when players completely manufacture fouls out of thin air.
I am sure Zaza will continue to find new ways to intimidate and James Harden will rely on his craftiness in other ways to gain whatever offensive advantage he can.