Attack The Rim! Protect The Rim!

With its 3-D rule, which prohibits any defender from ‘camping out’ in the 3″ lane for three seconds, the NBA has, in effect, a rule against zone defenses. With this, their coaches preach this mantra: “Attack the rim.” Meaning, drive the lane and score or draw a foul … or both. The thought was that this would make for more spectacular basketball, as fans would see great athletes like LeBron James and Derrick Rose blow by people for spectacular dunks or acrobatic drives. One problem: the other coach has a mantra: “Protect the rim.” So, those drivers are often slammed to the floor.

Understand, I see this in Europe, as well, as I do the telecasts for both the Italian Series A games and the EuroCup games. I cannot tell you how many times I see a driver just barge his way to the basket, like an NFL ball carrier (in fact, many tuck the ball under their armpit, just like an NFL ball carrier does) and, more often than not, end up making a bad play: a turnover, a blocked shot, a missed shot, a charging foul. Yes, he may also score and draw a foul. But I don’t like the percentages there. If he takes the pickup jump shot when it’s there: no charge, no infraction, no block, no turnover.

Yes, he may miss the shot. But a defender will always go out to challenge that shot and that leaves the store open under the basket for: (a) a tap-in on a missed shot or (b) a jump shot pass, from the shooter to a cutter, who is all alone under the basket because the big man has gone out to contest the jump shot. Here’s my take on all this. Since coaches have started preaching to attack the rim, scores have dropped, shooting percentages have dropped, turnovers have risen, blocked shots have risen, and charging fouls have risen, the ‘no-charge’ semi-circle notwithstanding.

What’s more, you have a one-dimensional game. Well, two dimensions: (a) take the three; (b) take the drive. I’ll come to the 3-point shot tomorrow. So, what we have, in the USA and in Europe, is … bad basketball. That is, bad plays. Sure, there might be a great drive now and then. But that happens anyway. So, I’d like to see the 3-D rule thrown out. Let them play zone. The coaches and players would adapt in one second: “Hey, don’t drive through that brick wall; take the pickup jump shot.” We’d see smarter, more technical, more beautiful basketball. My opinion.