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Portland Trail Blazers goalie CJ McCollum, president of the NBA Players’ Association, is hosting a meeting with fellow players this week to discuss the difficult transition to the league’s new Wilson basketball.
The NBA replaced its longtime Spalding basketball – deployed over the past 37 seasons – with the Wilson ball in a year-long process that included input from players and teams. But since the start of the 2021-22 season on October 19e, shot percentages are down and turnovers are up to historic numbers amid subtle complaints that the new bullet is responsible.
“To make no excuses or whatever, it’s just a different basketball,” Clippers forward Paul George told reporters Monday night after Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City. “It doesn’t have the same feel or the same softness as the Spalding ball. You will see this year, there are going to be a lot of bad hiccups. ”
In a Tweeter by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, McCollum was quoted as saying he will “get feedback” from other players this week on how to approach the ball in the future. During the 2006-07 season, the NBA attempted to switch from a leather ball to a composite microfiber ball, a period to which players universally rebelled. The league returned to Spalding’s leather ball at that point, but a similar exchange now seems unlikely given the NBA signed a long-term deal with Wilson in June.
The shooting statistics at the start of the season are alarming. Ahead of tonight’s games, the league-wide field goal percentage is 44.6%, which Sporting News says is one of the lowest numbers in the past decade. The NBA’s three-point shooting percentage also fell to 34.2%, the lowest in 18 years. League-wide turnover is 15.1 per game, the highest since the year the microfiber ball made its debut.
The poor shot affected some of the league’s top scorers. Although George shoots 49.2 percent from the ground, two of the league’s snipers, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal, collapse. Lillard’s scoring average is down from 28.8 to 18.3, her shooting is down 45% to 35% from the field, and her three-point shooting is down 45% to 23%. Beal’s score average is down from 31.3 to 24.3, his shooting percentage is down from 48.5% to 37.9%, and his three-point percentage is down from 34.9% to a career low of 22.9%.
“It’s an adjustment, ”Beal told NBC Sports-Washington ahead of the season. “It’s definitely different. It’s a little smoother. The word ‘Wilson’ isn’t raised like ‘Spalding’ was. ‘ It has its differences, but once you get it in, it’s pretty much the same. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.