SAN ANTONIO - The NBA has seen a rise in offensive numbers over the last 10 years, as the league has prioritized its rules to cater to high-scoring games. While the trend has helped offensive output, it has caught the ire of both Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who hopes to see subtle rule changes going forward.
"I would like to see a slight reversal in what we’re trying to accomplish as a league," Kerr said prior to Tuesday's game against the Spurs. "I think we’ve gone overboard in rewarding offensive players. And what I mean by that is we’ve rewarded offensive players for fooling the officials and attempting to fool the officials."
The NBA's prioritization of offense began prior to the 1997-98 season, when the league outlawed hand-checking, allowing more freedom of movement for players. Over the last 20 years, the rule change -- combined with modern offensive spacing -- has helped more offensive movement. It's also caused a rise in foul calls, as players like James Harden and Chris Paul have routinely led the league in free-throw attempts. This season, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, foul-outs are on pace to increase 60 percent.
On Tuesday, Kerr offered a solution.
"I think we need to get back to the point where players need to earn fouls and earn it by beating their man," Kerr said, "and drawing contact in a natural way and not flopping and flailing and grabbing arms and that’s going on all over the league.
"We have to decide as a league, are we going to call fouls that people would laugh about at a pickup game? That’s what we have to decide ultimately. And to me that’s where we’ve gone overboard."
On the other end of the arena, Popovich agreed, saying the current game is tedious to coach.
"It's very boring," Popovich said. "It's just simplistic."
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Still, Kerr said he doesn't blame players for hunting for calls.
"If the league is going to allow it then the players should 100 percent do it," Kerr said. "If the team is in the bonus and Chris Paul is standing at halfcourt and he’s going to swipe his arms underneath the guy 40 feet from the hoop and the ref is going to call it then Chris Paul should absolutely do it. More power to him."