The NBA decided to change their official game ball supplier from Spalding to Wilson this offseason. Wilson was the official maker of the NBA basketball for the first 37 years of the league before Spalding took over for the next 37. As Spalding failed to renew their contract, Wilson takes over ball-making duties once again.
While it’s still early in the season, the league is currently experiencing a temporary shooting slump, with an approximately 2% lower overall field goal and three-point percentage compared to last year. While a short offseason and new foul call interpretations have been subject to blame, some trainers, players, and analysts are now pointing towards the new Wilson ball as a possible issue.
“Not to make an excuse about the ball, but it’s a different basketball. It doesn’t have the same touch/softness that the Spalding ball had, and you’ll see this year. It’s gonna be a lot of bad misses,” said Clippers forwards Paul George.
Devin Booker also commented that the Wilson balls feel inconsistent while the Spalding balls always felt the same, and NBPA president CJ McCollum came forward to suggest that some players are finding it difficult to adjust to the new Wilson basketball and plans to start a conversation to solicit feedback. However, McCollum made sure to point out that “It is not the balls fault I missed shots lol. That’s the shooter’s fault. For the record.”
According to Wilson, their NBA basketballs are “comprised of the same materials, eight-panel configuration and performance specifications as the league’s current game balls and sources the same leather.” The brand worked with league sharpshooters such as Trae Young and Jamal Murray to test the prototypes ahead of the final version currently in use.
Back in 2006, the league changed to microfiber composite balls for a couple of months before it switched back to standard leather following feedback from the players. Time will tell whether changes will be made this time around.
“Not to make an excuse about the ball, but it’s a different basketball. It don’t have the same touch/softness that the Spalding ball had, and you’ll see this year. It’s gonna be a lot of bad misses.”
Paul George was asked about the ball. He’s shooting 49% FG & 41% 3PT. pic.twitter.com/PW0y7IjaxC
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) November 2, 2021
It is not the balls fault I missed shots lol. That’s the shooters fault. For the record https://t.co/pEQbYt3bVk
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) November 2, 2021
A lot of people are talking about the rule changes resulting in less free throws, but not much has been said about the ball change which has clearly made a HUGE impact.
Out of last years All-Stars that have attempted a 3 this season, 17/22 are shooting under 36% from 3.
— Drew Hanlen (@DrewHanlen) October 28, 2021
Book says the new Wilson ball feels a bit different ball to ball, whereas the Spalding ball was always the same feel every time.
Could partially explain league-wide shooting issues this season
— Dave King (@DaveKingNBA) November 3, 2021