New rules interpretations this season will make it 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 — the third highest total in NBA history for a player age 22 or younger, trailing only LeBron James (2,611) and Dwight Howard (2,574).
More than a few of Durant's free-throw attempts came off a so-called “rip” move, where the shooter swings the ball into a defender's outstretched arm and attempts to shoot the instant contact is made.
Durant excelled at the move, much to the delight of OKC fans and to the disdain of opponents. With the rip move now a “point of emphasis” for NBA officiating crews, these sequences will now be considered non-shooting fouls if contact begins before a player starts his shooting motion.
Before everyone says “RIP to the rip,” bear in mind a foul is still a foul in basketball.
If Durant is fouled in the act of shooting, it should result in a trip to the free-throw line – whether the foul comes during a rip move or driving to the basket.
A foul is a foul, whether you're Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love or Kevin Duckworth.
“You can't do away with it because in certain situations it's legit,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of the rip move last season, “but if a player goes out of his way and it's obvious he's not really even shooting a shot, it shouldn't be called. It should be a no-call in my opinion, and I think I've seen that. I think some officials have made no-calls on players who have done that. Sometimes it's going to be called wrong, but so is a block/charge and other things. It's the nature of the beast. You can't get everything right.”
Whistling a foul on the rip move is a difficult call for an official to make. All eyes are on the player with the ball. It's one-on-one in plain sight, but the moment of truth arrives so quickly it's often not easy to see.
The shooter flailing both arms adds to the illusion, whether he's hammered or untouched.