ESNY’s Danny Small dishes on three NBA topics
We are a few weeks into the NBA season and we are starting to notice a few trends. Some things we love. Other things we hate. Let’s take a look at Kevin Durant, the “take” foul, and Kyle Kuzma’s hilarious interaction with Cavaliers fans.
One Player I Love: Kevin Durant
We are not worthy!
Kevin Durant is putting together what might be the best season of his career. It’s kind of unbelievable that I am writing that considering the fact that Durant suffered one of the absolute injuries any athlete or basketball player could endure.
He’s just over two years removed from rupturing his Achilles and we are legitimately asking if he’s better than he was pre-injury. He’s having the best, most efficient season of his career, even on a steady diet of mid-range shots.
Don’t believe me? Entering Friday, Durant led the NBA in scoring (29.5 points per game) while posting career-highs in eFG% (.635), TS% (.674), rebounds per game (8.5), assist percentage (29.4%).
The Brooklyn Nets are (9-4) and near the top of the Eastern Conference despite James Harden’s slow start and Kyrie Irving’s absence. Durant should be the first name mentioned in every single MVP conversation, as early as they may seem.
One Rule I Hate: The Take Foul
The early-season focus was on the rule changes to eliminate the foul-baiting antics of guys like James Harden and Trae Young. As frustrating as those fouls were, they are not as bad as the dreaded “take” or “Euro” foul.
If you watch the NBA, you have seen this foul become increasingly common. It’s when a defender intentionally fouls a ballhandler to stop a transition or semi-transition opportunity. It can be a clever play when a defense is outnumbered.
However, the take foul is being abused by teams and taking the pace and flow out of the game. The NBA decided to eliminate “non-basketball moves” to help speed up the game. One could argue that the take foul does more to stunt a game’s flow.
There are a few options for change. One would be to award a free throw to the offensive team when an unnecessary take foul is committed. But that slows the game down and it leaves it up to the referee’s interpretation as to what is an “unnecessary” take foul vs. a smart basketball play.
A better option is adopting soccer-style advantage play. If a take foul is committed, the ref would allow the offensive player to play through the contact. At the next dead ball or when a basket is made, the ref can report the foul. The offense gets to take advantage of a transition opportunity and the defender who committed the foul is still penalized for it.
Thankfully, Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the league is looking at this issue.
Sources: The NBA Competition Committee today discussed the uptick in transition “take” fouls this season and encouraged the league office to develop a rule change that would eliminate incentive to utilize the tactic in future.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 2, 2021
One Great Fan Interaction You Need to See: Kyle Kuzma Silences Hecklers
A couple of hecklers were giving Kyle Kuzma a hard time in Cleveland. With the Wizards down nine points with six minutes left, Kuzma erupted for 12 points and the clutch three to put the Wizards on top. He had some fun with the hecklers after the game.
After knocking down a clutch three, @KyleKuzma told hecklers with a "LeBron Got Kuzma his RING!" sign that "It was their fault" & "Without LeBron, Cleveland wouldn't be sh*t." 😂
Then he autographed the sign after the game.
(Via jerm1315/IG) pic.twitter.com/jFVFi3Khsb
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 11, 2021
It’s still super early, but the Wizards are on fire. They are in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference and it’s due in large part to the new additions like Kuzma. Montrezl Harrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kuzma are all averaging double figures in scoring.
Wes Unseld Jr. deserves a ton of credit for the fast start. The first-year head coach is getting the most out of a group that few picked to make the playoffs. Again, it’s early, but the Wizards are buzzing.