This is my 2017 campaign to bring back hand checking. MBDA (Make Basketball Defensive Again) has to start here. Due to the still rising number of three-pointers attempted in the NBA we are watching the evolution of the game to a more finesse high-scoring event featuring flashy point guards. I love the NBA, and scoring is entertaining for everyone. However, there is a forgotten level of excitement that comes with physical defense and conflict in the paint.
Hand checking even in a limited fashion would provide some balance to the game and really separate the special offensive players from the rest of the pack. Stephen Curry and LeBron James would both still be all-timers if defenders were allowed to be more physical. Basketball is a contact sport and with guards and wing players being better and more skilled than ever it would be nice to see the NBA do something for the defenders to showcase their ability to truly shut players down.
Now, most will say elite defenders will be able to stay in front of their man anyway. Quite frankly, the NBA rules are built to facilitate scoring. We as an audience have come to accept these rules as the norm and have tailored our expectations of defenders to match. Even with hand checking in the past the elite defenders were good at defense due to supreme skill and basketball IQ. Gary Payton was not great because he was allowed to hand check. He would still be an elite defender today. When dealing with lightning quick guards that are also physical and impose their will offensively, like a Russell Westbrook, what can a defender do? I am tired of watching highlights of offensive players being allowed to sprint untouched to the basket with all the speed and physicality they want. Big men have to constantly avoid picking up “ticky-tack” fouls. As exciting as it is to watch Russ and LeBron throw down thunderous dunks, I tend to think the rules lean too much in the offense’s favor.
I acknowledge that most fans want to see high scoring games and acrobatic dunks from their favorite offensive players. However, we cannot let physicality and great defense become a lost art in the NBA. Make the NBA Defensive Again!