In his Tuesday ESPN column, Zach Lowe professed a pretty severe dislike of Chris Paul (and other guards) hitting the brakes to draw fouls on the fastbreak. This comes on the heels of Friday night's incident when Paul bumped knees with Anthony Davis, which resulted in the young big man having to be carried off the floor with a scary-looking but ultimately innocuous injury.
"I don't care that I've given this non-play a "dislike" before. It reared its ugly head again over the weekend, when Chris Paul hit the brakes and caused Davis to rear-end him, and the NBA needs to have a serious discussion about labeling this dangerous trick a black-and-white offensive foul.
The NBA is obsessed with things that are not "basketball plays." That language permeates the debate about both flagrant fouls and block-charge calls.
This little thing that Paul, Westbrook and Kyle Lowry do is not a basketball play. It is the temporary suspension of normal basketball play to create artificial contact and draw a foul. In basketball, dribblers with an open lane to the hoop dribble through that open lane toward the basket. They don't slow down, veer sideways, and stick their butt into the way of oncoming traffic.
The competition committee has talked about cracking down on this play, sources say, and they should keep talking about it." - Zach Lowe, ESPN.com (December, 1, 2015)
Zach Lowe is a god among sports writers, but the dude is wrong here. This is absolutely a basketball play. In fact, it might be the only play in these circumstances.
Chris Paul, like me, lists himself as 6'0" tall, and like me, is decidedly not 6'0" tall. This league is suddenly flush with long-armed 6'8"-plus monsters with strides like gazelles. If, as Zach Lowe suggests, Paul, and Kyle Lowry, and Russell Westbrook -- well, maybe not Westbrook, because he's a monster too -- simply dribble down the open floor and allow themselves to be freely chased by the likes of Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and DeAndre Jordan, the result would be this:
Chasedown blocks. Lots of them.
Guards, especially the smaller ones, will always be at a disadvantage in a league built for men built like trees. Drawing fouls may be the only weapon they have in certain situations. It's either that or risk having them attempt to draw a foul in midair at the rim, which seems like a major injury risk, a much greater injury risk than that during the play that happened last week.
What happened to Davis is unfortunate, but unfortunate things happen sometimes during basketball play. And Paul's play was most certainly a basketball play.