Damian Lillard is very unhappy about the quality of NBA officiating since the beginning of the season.
The Portland Trail Blazers star, who has been mired in a slump this season, aired his grievances after Portland's 117-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, criticizing how the referees have been handling the new foul rules. Refs this season have been instructed to stop calling fouls on non-basketball related moves, which has upended the game of players like James Harden.
It's been lot for some players to get used to, but Lillard believes that the referees are letting players get away with a lot more than they did last year.
“I feel like the way the game is being officiated is unacceptable," Lillard said via NBC Sports. "I don’t want to go too deep into it so they make a big deal out of it, but the explanations, the s*** that’s getting missed, I mean, come on. I felt like coming in, the rule change wouldn’t affect me, because I don’t do the trick the referees, I don’t do the trick plays, and it’s just unacceptable. Then the explanations and the remarks in return when you tell them is just like [Lillard shrugs]. I don’t even have nothin’ else to say about it.”
Even though Lillard doesn't believe he's the kind of player who would "trick the referees" into calling fouls on non-basketball moves, he's still being affected by the new foul rule. He's averaging four fewer free throw attempts per game than he was last season.
Largest dips in FTA/g:
Lillard: 7.2➡️3.2 (-4)
Beal: 7.7➡️4.0 (-3.7)
Young: 8.7➡️5.3 (-3.4)
Sexton: 6.4➡️3.5 (-2.9)
Harden: 7.3➡️4.6 (-2.7)
Embiid: 10.7➡️8.6 (-2.1)
Mitchell: 6.0➡️3.9 (-2.1)
Doncic: 7.1➡️5.1 (-2)
Grant: 6.4➡️4.5 (-1.9)
LeBron: 5.7➡️3.8 (-1.9)
Fox: 7.2➡️5.5 (-1.7) https://t.co/x1H6BuaRds
— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) November 10, 2021
That's definitely not the only thing fueling his slump, though. Through 11 games, he's pretty much level with the 2020-21 season as far as 3-point attempts, but the ball just isn't finding the basket as much on those shots. Of course, it's just 11 games. There are still 71 more to go, which is plenty of time for Lillard to find his form.
Lillard got a lot off his chest regarding the officiating on Tuesday night, and hopefully he feels that's worth whatever fine he's going to face for bad-mouthing the referees.