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Betting on the NBA With the New Defensive Rules

| November 16, 2021 10:16 am PDT

The NBA’s new rules have already been criticized by some big-name players, but other people are really enjoying it. The new NBA rules basically state that you can no longer launch yourself into your defender in exchange for free throws.

Some players were seemingly abusing the previous rules and making free throws with ease, and the NBA wanted to combat that. There were certain times in recent years that the NBA seemed unwatchable because of all the fouls being called.

Defense is a crucial part of any sport, and basketball is no different. The old rules made that much harder to play defense. 2021 and beyond will be somewhat of a new era in the NBA, making for a better overall product.

The Official Rule Change

The NBA released a statement regarding the official new rule for the 2021-22 season.

“For the 2021-22 NBA season, there will be an interpretive change in the officiating of overt, abrupt or abnormal non-basketball moves by offensive players with the ball in an effort to draw fouls.”

There has been a significant issue on the way offense was being played by certain players in the NBA.

At times, it often looked like they were trying to draw fouls rather than actually try and score. It was bending the rules of how fouls should be called and they were being rewarded for it.

Overall, watching the NBA became less and less fun. Wouldn’t you rather watch some fast paced action than a free throw contest? There is a reason why there is a dunk, 3 point, and skills contest on the All-Star weekend, rather than a free throw contest.

NBA fans are very excited about the rule. After all, the NBA and other sports are made for the fans’ enjoyment and their happiness should be the focus.

Top Players Impacted By the New Rules

The rules have already created a stir throughout the NBA. Players have been complaining about the new rules and they have a small point, but I personally think the rule is great for the NBA.

We even saw the Men’s USA Basketball Team struggle with non-NBA rules in the Olympics.

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has been vocal about the new rules, stating that the way the game is being officiated is unacceptable.

In the video above, you can clearly see Lillard jumping into defenders for free throws, discrediting his statement entirely. Here is a list of Lillard’s free throw attempts per game since 2015.

Year Free Throw Attempts Per Game
2015-16 6.2
2016-17 7.3
2017-18 7.4
2018-19 6.4
2019-20 7.8
2020-21 7.2
2021-22 3.2

His free throw attempts this season have dipped considerably, more than 50% from last season. Lillard averaged 28.8 points per game last season as well, but his average has dropped to 19.3 points per game this season.

He is averaged 4 less free throws per game and has lowered his points per game by no surprise.

James Harden

When talking about the free throw rules, James Harden is the poster boy. Harden was incredible at drawing fouls by tying his arms into the defenders and throwing his hands in an abnormal shooting attempt.

Harden has led the league in free throw attempts a crazy amount of times. From 2012 to 2020, he has led the league in free throw attempts in all but one of those years (7 out of 8 years). In all those 7 seasons, he has had over 10 free throw attempts per game.

Harden, to no one’s surprise, has seen a noticeable dip in free throw attempts as well. This season, his free throw attempts per game have dropped to just 4.6.

His points per game is 18.3, while last season he averaged 24.6.

Harden and Lillard were two players who many were considering as value picks for the NBA MVP award. As you can see in my NBA MVP odds update, they have taken a step back in the rankings following the rule changes.

They have an uphill battle to get back to the way they played before, but there is a chance they can’t score as many points as they did in recent years.

A good example of NBA players adjusting is the recent Olympics. The USA Men’s Team had some surprising losses in the tournament, but they ended up defeating France and winning the gold medal.

How This Impacts Betting on the NBA

As I stated above, players like Harden and Lillard become extremely risky to bet on for player prop bets. Harden has scored 15 points or less in 5 of his 11 games so far this season.

Lillard has been a bit more sporadic, with his worst game being an abysmal 4 points against the Pacers.

Lillard and Harden aren’t the only players who are affected by this rule. I would say that any player who is a shooter is at more risk to average less points per game.

That means for player prop bets, it might be smart to start taking the unders for certain players.

I would strongly recommend avoiding points prop bets until we see certain players string together some strong games. Right now, we can see some crazy low points from players we are not used to seeing score such low totals.

If you want to bet on player points props, I recommend players who can score outside of free throw attempts. Some players who are still scoring high amounts of points like before include Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, and Paul George.

The new rules can also affect over/under totals and money lines as well. For example, Luka Doncic was a player who was used as an example of abusing the old rules. This season, the Mavericks have hit the under in 7 out of their 10 games.

The Brooklyn Nets (James Harden’s team) has also hit the under in a whopping 9 out of 11 games. This is going to translate to wins and losses as well, because you simply either need to adjust to the new rules or play better defense.

How to Bet on the NBA With the New Rules

Now knowing how the NBA’s new rules are affecting NBA betting, it is not something to avoid suddenly. I would steer away from the top end players clearly being affected by the rule, or simply look to place some under player prop bets instead of the over.

It is very important to keep an eye on trends in any sport, and the NBA is going through a major trend switch right now. It is 100% possible that these players improve their game and get right back into their usual forms.

After all, they are the best players in the world.

It is going to take some time, maybe even the whole year, to see how this rule will affect the NBA superstars. Under bets might be the new move for the time being but waiting and seeing is the best option.

Top Tip
I would highly reconsider placing bets on certain players for the NBA MVP award, as this season has a chance to be very surprising.

To place your under bets, head to the best NBA betting sites and check out our NBA picks.

Anthony Haage

Anthony is a sports writer for GamblingSites.com covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and more. He also covers other various topics such as entertainment, general sports betting tips, and more.

His favorite teams are the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks. He also will be a temporary fan of any team if it means winning him bets.

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