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When the NBA cracked down on offensive players initiating contact to draw fouls, there were a few key players who seemed destined to struggle to adjust to the new rules. James Harden and Trae Young have predictably gotten off to slower starts this season as they've adjusted, but they aren't the only star guards to struggle in this new world.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has felt the impact of the changes as much as anyone. After averaging 7.2 free throw attempts per game last season and 6.1 for his career as a whole, Lillard is down to 3.2 per game this season, a new career low. That decline has led to Lillard averaging 9.5 fewer points per game, as he's down from 28.8 last season to 19.3 this season. After a 117-109 loss to the Clippers Tuesday, Lillard unloaded on the league for the way it is encouraging its officials to call games. 

"I feel like the way the game is being officiated is unacceptable," Lillard told reporters. "I don't want to go too deep into it so they make a big deal out of it, but the explanations, the shit 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."

Whether or not this should be the case, these new rules have certainly affected guards like Lillard far more than most players. Ja Morant is the only player in the top 10 in the NBA in free throw attempts that is below 6-foot-6. There were five such players last season: Lillard, Young, Harden, Bradley Beal and De'Aaron Fox. Most rule changes over the past several decades were made hoping to help small players in a league that tended to be dominated by bigger scorers. For once, the NBA has gone in the other direction. 

Damian Lillard
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But free throws are hardly the only culprit for Lillard's struggles. He can't blame the officials for his 25.5 3-point percentage. He's even struggling on his rare wide-open attempts, making only 23.8 percent of them from long range. Lillard might have a point about how games are being officiated, but he has plenty of his own issues to work through as well here.