The opening weekend of the NBA playoffs has been very exciting, with so many upsets occurring all around the league. However, two of those upsets may have only occurred due to superstar players being injured by defenders who were taking charges. This has led to so much of an outrage among fans that they are calling for the removal of the charging foul from the game. Is this an overreaction, or is it warranted? Let’s dive right in.
The rule itself is simple enough. Directly from the NBA, it states:
Block-Charge: An on-ball, block-charge situation occurs when contact is made between an offensive player (who is moving in a particular direction or trying to change directions) and defensive player. The defender is permitted to establish his legal guarding position in the path of the dribbler regardless of his speed and distance. To get into a legal position, the defender needs to establish himself in the path of the offensive player before contact is made, thus “beating him to the spot,” and before he starts his upward shooting motion.
For example, while this play injured Morant pretty badly (leading him to say his pain was a 10 after the game), it was technically a charge, and an offensive foul was awarded to Morant. The same happened with Giannis, and with Joel Embiid.
While this kind of play is uncommon, it isn’t unheard of either. Similar plays happened a little further back to Kevin Durant and LaMelo Ball, as you can see here.
Is banning the charge the answer? Many fans have been calling for the removal of the play, as have some journalists. Zach Harper of The Athletic wrote on the site’s daily basketball newsletter, The Bounce (which is free and you should definitely subscribe to) that the charge should be removed due to further risk of player injury. Of course, if you want any more proof, just hop onto NBA Twitter or NBA Reddit and you’ll immediately see dozens of fans calling for charges to be banned.
Now, here’s my take on the situation:
Something definitely needs to be addressed here. When you have a league that’s growing more talented by the day and super athletic guys that can jump out of the gym, like Morant, Aaron Gordon, De’Aaron Fox, Anthony Edwards, Robert Williams, and Zach LaVine, there’s going to be more air time, which means more fouls and charges. However, getting rid of the rule all together is a big mistake. I have to side with John Hollinger here, who made a really compelling case in this article, saying,
“On the other hand, I don’t think people realize how much it would change the game to just confer a badge of immunity on any player flying toward the rim after he’s beaten the initial defender. A lot of the drive-and-kick we see now would become drive-and-drive, and we’d likely see several unanticipated cascading effects flow from there.”John Hollinger
Charges are a very infrequent event, occurring around once a game on average. While yes, it looks bad for two superstars to get injured on the playoff’s opening weekend due to charges (and throw in Tyler Herro breaking his wrist for good measure), that doesn’t mean the NBA has to immediately ban one of basketball’s oldest rules.
Now, there could and should be some modifications to the types of charges allowed. Kevin Love took a beautiful charge on Antetokounmpo here; no reason for that to change, right? On the other hand, taking a charge while players are already 2-3 feet off the ground isn’t a safe idea; why not just ban airborne charges? That way, the Morant’s of the world who fly sky high won’t have to worry about an awkward landing.
In looking at all the plays where superstars were injured after a defender tried to draw a charge, another recurring theme is that they all happened just outside of the restricted area, where players are forbidden from taking charges. Why not move the restricted area out just a few feet further? That way, there’s a higher chance high flyers begin their jump in the restricted area, meaning no one could take charges on them. Implement these two rules, and I think we’ll see a decrease in the already-small amount of players injured from charges.
What do you think about the charging rule? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!
Credit for Pictures:
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports