By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Last week, ESPN reported that the NBA was finalizing a rule to penalize flopping starting this season.
The unpopular tactic, which bothered fans and enraged ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy throughout the playoffs, is an acting ploy used to bait referees into fouls that weren’t committed.
And the league is trying to put an end to it, starting with the proposed plan to punish floppers with postgame reviews and fines when the violation is egregious.
“This was a growing issue in our game,” Stu Jackson, the senior vice president for basketball operations, said to the New York Times. ”We’re talking about the play where a player barely gets touched and somehow ends up in the second row.”
How will this affect the Thunder? That remains to be seen.
The exact rules and regulations will likely take a few months to fully settle in. But for physical defenders and dramatic drivers, it’s a new penalty to keep your eye on.
Here’s a look at the three players on OKC’s roster who may be affected most (and what they think about the new rule):
Nick Collison – the crafty post defender
Despite a high number of induced charges, Collison isn’t considered a flopper. He’s just hard-nosed and willing to throw his body around for the team. But there are those occasional calls where Collison slightly exaggerates the contact, making him an interesting case-study on how strictly the league enforces its new rule.
“We’ll see how it plays out,” Collison said. “I’m not really sure how it’s going to work. I think it’s something the league feels like they need to do something about, but they’re not sure exactly the best way to do it. I guess, until I hear what the system is going to be and what exactly is going to define a flop, I don’t really know exactly what to say about it… Some of them you get pretty hard, others not as hard. So I’m definitely interested, curious to see how they regulate it.”
James Harden – the dramatic driver
Harden attacks the rim like few others in the league, using his euro step and silky touch to fool defenders and rack up quick points. But part of that elusive style comes from his undeniable flair, which sometimes leads to flailing arms and baited calls. Are those considered flops? We’ll find out. But he didn’t seem too worried about the new rule on Monday.
“Good. It’s good,” Harden said. “Guys can’t be flopping and getting away with it anymore. It was bound to happen at some point and obviously the league got fed up with it and put it in, so I’m happy they did it.”
Kendrick Perkins – the foul-prone center
If Perkins was a referee, he’d probably eject and suspend flopping offenders. Even the word makes him cringe. So he doesn’t have to worry much about violating the new rule. But the physical center is known for driving and playing with reckless abandon. So, if the rule is effective in changing culture, maybe a few opponents think twice about faking contact on an occasional flying elbow or lowered shoulder, allowing Perkins to avoid a batch of technicals.
“I like (the rule),” Perkins said. “(Flopping) just takes away from the game, man. It’s one thing to take charges and put your body in the way like Nick does for our team all the time. I think he led the NBA in taking charges. That’s the sacrifice because a lot of guys won’t sacrifice their bodies to really get hit. You see guys who be flopping all the time and not really getting hit when you have guys who really taking hits who have bruised ribs and cracked ribs or whatever out there taking a punishment. You have guys out there flopping, it’s just bad for the game. Bad for the game and I’m glad we are finally making a stand on it.