Trae Young on NBA rule change: ‘It’s frustrating, for sure’

Some of the NBA’s new rule changes, Trae Young can get on board with, including shooters not being permitted to veer or jump into defenders.

But in some instances, he said after the Hawks’ loss to the Wizards Thursday night, fouls aren’t being called when they should be.

“There was a lot of missed calls that they missed, but it’s basketball,” Young said. “It feels like they’re learning. I mean, I don’t know. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating, for sure.”

Young averaged 8.7 free-throw attempts per game last season, tied for the third-most in the NBA. This season, on the heels of the NBA attempting to crack down on the use of “non-basketball moves” to draw fouls, he’s averaging 4.4 attempts per game through the Hawks’ first five games.

He went 2-for-3 from the line in Thursday’s loss. The Hawks (3-2), who were No. 4 in free-throw attempts last season (24.2 attempts per game), are No. 28 (15.2) in attempts so far this season, though it’s still a small sample size. They went 9-for-14 from the line Thursday, to the Wizards’ 17-for-21. There was clearly some frustration coming from the Hawks, who had four technicals, one each for Young, John Collins and De’Andre Hunter plus one as a team for a delay of game.

Young’s main sticking point is when he’s driving to the basket and getting thrown off-balance by a defender.

“When guys are driving straight and guys are getting knocked off-balance, it’s still a foul, whether they’re using their lower body or their hands to stop the defender,” Young said. “So it’s still a foul. There’s a lot of things they took out that was necessary, veering back and jumping into guys, that’s different. There’s certain things that I agree with the rule change. But then there’s things that are still fouls and guys are going to get hurt. That’s why, especially a smaller guy like me who’s going up against bigger, stronger defenders, they’re using their body and they’re using their legs and their hands to stop me.

“I know they’re looking for guys getting knocked off-balance, so if I’m going straight and I get my balance knocked off, that’s a foul. If they slow down my speed, that’s a foul. I know the rules, so a ref can’t come to me and tell me what happened and what didn’t, if I know exactly what they’re looking for, you know what I’m saying? So that’s pretty much it.”

Young said he had seen the Nets’ James Harden (who averaged 7.3 free-throw attempts per game last season) talk about how the new rule emphasis was targeting Harden, but said: “It’s not just targeting just one player, or two players, it’s a couple guys that you kind of feel the refs are holding their whistle.”

On how the Hawks have to handle it moving forward, Young said they’ll have to fight through it and try to adjust.

“You’ve got to fight through it and play through it,” Young said. “I mean, obviously they’re not going to change refs, as much as some of us would like. But I feel like we’ve got to adjust just like they’ve got to adjust. We’ve got to figure it out. I don’t know. I don’t want to get fined too much, but this is frustrating.”