Following the Blazers’ recent loss in LA to the Clippers, Damian Lillard sounded off on the NBA’s latest rule change that’s led to far fewer free throws these days. Lillard felt he was fouled multiple times and yet took just one free throw in the contest. We couldn’t be happier that they’re finally forcing these guys to play like men, but Dame disagrees.
“The way the game is being officiated is unacceptable,” Lillard said postgame. “I don’t want to go too deep into it so they make a big deal out of it, but the explanations that’s getting missed, I mean, come on. I felt like coming in, the rule change wouldn’t affect me because I don’t do the trick the referees. I don’t do the trick plays. It’s just unacceptable.”
"It's unacceptable, man."
Damian Lillard had something to say about how the refs are officiating the games this season. pic.twitter.com/ozSdSmKZKB
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) November 10, 2021
Lillard, like James Harden who is also struggling this year, are exactly why the NBA changed the rules. The product of the NBA was beginning to shift too far onto the offensive player’s side. And with athleticism growing year by year, it became impossible to defend anyone. There was either a foul drawn from behind the arc after mysteriously falling down, a flop in the paint that was potentially an and-1 that also slowed the game down, or an uncontested lay-up because defenders were too afraid of being punished for aggressive defense.
Physicality disappeared for “player safety,” and wildly talented players took advantage of that. Can’t really fault the players when they’re paying guys north of $50 million a year on max contracts, however it became an objectively garbage watch.
Now the league is only calling fouls where it’s clear to the naked eye. Anything less than that is a “play-on,” and it’s impacting Damian Lillard’s ability to dominate games. He’s still an elite player who’ll likely make his adjustments down the road, but let’s call it for what this is: Dame is exactly the type of player that fooled officials. The fact that he took time out of his postgame talks to address this indicates he’s insecure that fans will believe he’s falling off due to the rule change. It’s not helping that the NBA also changed the basketball from SPALDING to Wilson brand, which has statistically impacted shooting across the league.
Dame is averaging just 19.4 points per game (lowest since rookie season in 2012) on 37% shooting. No need to get defensive, Dame. You just need time to get used to playing some old school ball. It’s a different game out here.