A theme throughout the first half of the NBA season is the clear emphasis on traveling violations. Specially, officials have cracked down on players appearing to shuffle their feet before dribbling after catching the ball out on the perimeter.
The shear volume of traveling calls has skyrocketed around the NBA this season. Per Elias Sports Bureau, 1,753 traveling violations had been whistled this season through Sunday’s games. That’s nearly 200 more than were whistled all of last season, and the 2022-23 regular season is just more than halfway complete.
Minnesota has been whistled for 70 traveling violations, compared to 67 in all of last season. Yet Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said he hasn’t done anything from a coaching perspective to address the steps with his players.
“It’s just so randomly applied. It’s not something you want to put into your players’ heads,” Finch said.
He doesn’t understand the intent of the rule change, noting he doesn’t believe it will affect the way guys play.
“They’ll call these slot travels and they may or may not have an impact on the play,” Finch said. “But in the post you’ll see a guy change pivot foot twice before he shoots. We are mindful of it in certain situations, but mostly we don’t overcoach it.”
Timberwolves guard Austin Rivers seems to have similar thoughts.
“That (stuff) is ridiculous. It’s not even the refs’ fault,” Rivers said. “They don’t know what they’re calling. Half the time they call it. … It’s not the refs. It’s hard. Guys are moving their feet. Sometimes they’re not even traveling. It just looks like one and they’re calling it. Sometimes they’re not. I don’t know who pushed that, but they need to push back.”
Center Naz Reid said it’s a hard situation. Some players may agree with the calls, and some may not. But he has been proactive about trying to use the officiating tweak as a learning experience. He watches film to see what he did wrong when he’s called for traveling and tries to adjust from there.
“Just get in the gym and work on different angles of pivot foots and things like that,” Reid said. “I mean, you can work on it. Some of our guys have been working on it with (assistant coach Chris Hines), with our pivot foots and trying to get the ball down before we move and things like that.”
Reid said that footwork repetition has created opportunities for him to look for ways to set his feet to set up his defender.
“I kind of use it as a positive, too,” he said. “I know, for me, I don’t really get that called too many times. But when I do, I try to adjust to it, even if it’s not the right call. I try to see what I did wrong or what made them feel like it was the right call, just to try and see what I did.”
McLaughlin still out
Asked for an update on reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin before Monday’s game, Finch said he couldn’t provide much clarity on the situation.
“I don’t think a return is anytime soon,” Finch said.
Monday was McLaughlin’s 20th straight game missed with a calf strain.