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Trae Young on officiating changes: “There’s things that are still fouls, and guys are going to get hurt”

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Last season, Trae Young averaged 8.7 free throw attempts a game. The season before that, 9.3.

This season, young is getting to the line 4.8 times a game.

He is not alone. James Harden may be the poster child, but plenty free throw attempt leaders from seasons past have seen their trips to the line drop as NBA referees stop calling “abnormal, abrupt, or overt movements” that are not part of a natural basketball play

Young said agrees with some of the rule changes, but feels the pendulum is swinging too far the other way now. Here are his comments after the Hawks fell to the Wizards Thursday.

“You can watch basketball. Damian Lillard‘s never averaged 17 points probably since his rookie year. There’s a couple guys. I mean, Book’s [Devin Booker] averaging 18. There’s a lot of things that, when guys are driving straight and guys are getting knocked off balance — it’s still a foul, whether they’re using their lower body or their hands….

“Veering back and jumping into guys, that’s different. There are certain things that, I agree with the rule changes, but then there’s things that are still fouls, and guys are going to get hurt. Especially a smaller guy like me who’s going up against bigger and stronger defenders, they’re using their body and they’re using their legs and their hands to stop me.”

There is a lot of adjusting going on with the new rule enforcement. That starts with the officials, who are trying to draw the line on what is and what is not a foul. It’s easy not to make the call when a shooter leaps four-feet forward trying trying to draw contact on a defender, but the reality of most shot contests is the defender jumps a little forward and the offensive player leaps a little forward, and that line on what is and is not a foul is not always clear and bright.

Defenders are adjusting, too, seeing how much more physicality they can get away with. Now it’s on the offensive players to adjust — they are going to have to learn to play through more contact. And find ways to create a little more space for their shot.

In discussing the new rule enforcement with members of the media before the season,  NBA VP of referee development and training Monty McCutchen said to expect the competition committee and the referees to keep adjusting the enforcement as the season went on. He wanted to make clear this would be a process for everyone.

Including Trae Young.

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