New Stats Show How the 2021 NBA Rule Change Has Transformed the League

Published 11/01/2021, 11:30 AM EDT
Oct 29, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) argues with an official in the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports


The new NBA season has provided us with some of the most entertaining basketball. Apart from scintillating shots and roaring blocks, there have been some massive upsets too. A large part of the attention however, has been taken up by the new rule changes that have been implemented. Due to this, players have to work extra hard to earn their points. While some haven’t really been affected by this, many big players have seen their stats take a turn for the worse.

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Ahead of the league’s 76th campaign, there was a growing discontent over how easily some attackers draw fouls. Referees wouldn’t hesitate to blow the whistle over minimal contact. But this year, a massive change has been implemented. The officials have been instructed to be far more rigid before calling fouls, and officiating against any non-basketball move will be strictly adhered to. And this has seen the league’s offensive statistics take a massive hit.

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As reported by StatMuse, many of the mainstays have lost out on numerous points due to the rule changes. Stephen Curry’s average points has gone from 32 to 28.7, Damian Lillard has dropped from 28.8 points to 19.2, and Luka Doncic from 27.7 to 22.4. This season has also seen the fewest FT per game in history, lowest FG% since 2003, lowest 3P% since two decades, and lowest ORTG since 2014. Yet, it is probably a move that has worked out for the better.

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In spite of the dip in stats, the change restores balance in the league. In a game that has become increasingly offense oriented, the defense now has the freedom to go for he kill. Additionally, everyone can now discover the true potential of players. Attackers have to rely more on skill and defenders can express themselves. Moreover, it will also cause the referees to be fully alert at all times, in order to know when to deem a play as a foul. All in all, the game is the ultimate winner.

Oct 26, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots a three point shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second quarter at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The rule change marks the beginning of a new era in the NBA; one that has equal opportunity on both ends. It will be very engaging to witness the rise and fall of the league’s big boys in this new era. Let’s wait and watch as to who can sustain their quality!

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

455 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is an NBA and Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football and table tennis. Sankalp idolises Roger Federer and Stephen Curry, and has an inherent love for statistics.

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