Mike Bantom, the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Referee Operations, is cracking down on a very specific point of contention.
The issue at hand? Verticality.
Secondary defenders are permitted to challenge an oncoming offensive player so long as they stay “vertical.” However, according to a memorandum sent to all owners, general managers, coaches and officials over the weekend, there has been a noticeable increase of players bending, if not breaking, the rule.
We have noticed that defenders have been turning sideways when jumping to defend
an oncoming offensive player on drives to the basket. This is illegal and referees are
being instructed to call this a blocking foul.”
The memo contained links to videos showcasing examples of rule violators, including Spencer Hawes, Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe and Jared Sullinger. It also contained one linked example of a slight turn which is deemed legal, as illustrated by Alexis Ajinca.
In addition to those addressed in the memo, Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert was also a recipient.