Because of new rules interpretations that will be a point of emphasis in the 2011-12 season, it will now be a little tougher for Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant to get to the free-throw line with the same frequency. Durant has attempted 2,487 free throws his first four seasons in the NBA — the third highest total in history for a player his age, trailing only LeBron James and Dwight Howard.
More than a few of Durant’s free-throw attempts have come off the so-called “rip” move, when the shooter swings the ball into a defender’s outstretched arm and attempts to shoot once contact is made. Durant excelled at the move, much to the delight of OKC fans and to the disdain of opponents. These will now be considered non-shooting fouls if contact begins before a player starts his shooting motion.
Here is a story on Durant’s “rip” move published last season in The Oklahoman.
Durant and others also draw multiple free throws while driving to the basket. Shooting fouls will now be called only if contact occurs after the player has begun his shooting motion and not after he has initiated his leap.
Several other rules changes will be introduced this season, as reported by Ric Bucher of ESPN The Magazine:
- Traveling in the post and on the perimeter will be a point of emphasis, with a player hopping off of and landing on the same foot viewed as an automatic violation. Referees will also consider locking or clamping an opponent’s arm or hand under the basket while battling for a rebound and discontinued or hesitation dribbles as automatic violations.
- Substitutions will only be allowed before the final free throw of any trip to the line that is not for a technical or flagrant foul.
- Two horns will be sounded 15 seconds apart after every timeout. Teams whose players are not moving toward the court as soon as the second horn sounds will receive a delay-of-game warning.
- Instant replay will be utilized only during full timeouts, not 20-second timeouts, when necessary.
- Whether a player’s foot is on the 3-point line or midcourt line will be determined by where it last touched the floor, meaning a player could have a toe on the three-point line but if he leans back on his heels before he releases the ball a successful shot would be deemed a three-pointer.
- The eight-second backcourt violation will occur when the shot clock reaches 15 seconds, rather than 16. This is necessary because the 24-second shot clock will now be equipped to show 10ths for the final five seconds and work as a “true” clock. From a technical standpoint, the old shot clock began with 24.9 seconds and expired with .9 left. Now the clock will switch from 24 to 23 seconds after .1 second has expired.
- Referees will be vigilant about defenders making contact with offensive players when they’re in the air and fully extended attempting to score. In most cases, expect this kind of foul to draw a Flagrant Level 2, which is two free throws, possession of the ball and the defender being ejected. “That type of contact was a trend last season and it’s really dangerous,” said NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson.