NBA’s New Rules Affecting Phoenix Suns Differently than Everyone Else

Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

It became difficult to tell the difference between an NBA game and a soccer contest last year. This occurred not due to an increase in kicked ball violations or more fancy footwear, but with how countless players made “flopping” an unfortunate habit. This played out not only during Phoenix Suns games, but across the league as a whole.

For those unfamiliar, selling fouls to officials by flailing one’s hands in the air or purposefully bumping into a defender became a cheap—and consequently popular way for players to score points over the past decade. The play style eerily reflects that of professional soccer, where players fake injuries every game hoping to force yellow cards upon their opponents or earn penalty shots for themselves.

Superstar basketball players like Trae Young, James Harden, and Stephen Curry often utilized the strategy at the NBA level though, working their way to the charity stripe each night with ease.

One cannot blame these players for exploiting this achilles heel within the game, but for fans, it became increasingly annoying, as complaints repeatedly flooded the internet about all the “flopping” and how it disrupts basketball at its core.

This summer, the league heard these outcries, and instituted a new rule, asking officials to no longer call these fouls on “non-basketball moves” during the 2021-22 season.The rule has affected the league substantially thus far.

For the first time in six year, the league’s scoring is on the downturn compared to the year before, doing so by a large margin. Right now, the league’s collective scoring average sits at 107.4 points per game—a massive decrease from last year’s 112.1 points per game.

NBA teams also collectively average 20.0 free throw attempts per game this year, despite averaging 21.4 per game a season ago. The league’s field goal percentage also decreased from 46.6 percent to 44.7 percent, as the new rule allows players to defend more aggressively with the fear of drawing a whistle now absent.

But while every other teams continues to make massive changes and adjustments under this new rule, the Suns oddly enough remain untouched and unbothered by it.

Unlike the entire league, the Suns find themselves averaging more free throw attempts per game this season than the last. During their Western Conference winning campaign a year ago, the Suns averaged 18.7 attempts from the stripe per game, opposed to their 21.7 attempts this year.

Although the Suns work in accordance with league trends with their field goal percentage, shooting a decreased mark this year compared to last year, their increased free throw numbers still make them a true anomaly as a team.

If anything, this discovery reflects Phoenix’s toughness as a team. Unlike most other squads needing to adjust and learn to draw real fouls rather than pretend ones, the Suns already know how to do so—hence why their numbers trend oppositely.

Next. The One Thing Responsible for Phoenix's Turnaround. dark

Earlier this week, the league voted to keep this new rule intact, which surely proves to benefit the Suns down the line. While everyone else plays catch up, the Suns just keep playing ball the way they know how—which just so happens to coincide with this new direction for the league.