NBA Considers Three Rule Changes for 2018-19, and It’s All About the Offense, Baby

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Bleacher Report The NBA is reportedly exploring potential rule changes involving the shot clock and foul calls that would trigger a replay review.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA competition committee is recommending resetting the shot clock to 14 seconds after offensive rebounds and expanding the definition of what constitutes a “hostile act” for the purpose of replay review. 

Wojnarowski added the NBA board of governors is likely to pass the rule changes at their meetings on Sept. 20-21 before going to the teams for approval. The measures will need two-thirds of the owners to approve in order to pass. 

Unlike the NFL, which has faced a lot of backlash for many of the rule changes they’ve implemented lately, what the NBA is trying to do here makes a lot of sense.

It’s pretty clear that the changes are being proposed in an effort to increase pace of play and promote more scoring chances for both teams on the floor each night.

First and foremost, decreasing the shot clock from 24 to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound should actually increase the amount of total shot attempts per game. Some may think that less time on the clock means less opportunity to take a shot, but in reality it’ll force teams to hoist it up more quickly, ultimately causing for more changes in possession and more opportunity for both sides to score the ball.

It’ll also force some of the old-school teams (i.e. San Antonio, Memphis) to get away from the traditional half-court style of play that seems to be becoming more and more extinct with each passing year. The NBA has been embracing the run-and-gun, fast-paced style of play for quite some time now, and teams that don’t start getting with the program are soon going to be left in the dust. Teams now need players at pretty much every position who can get out and run in transition (a la Golden State, Philadelphia, New Orleans, the Lakers), and who also display the ability to quickly adapt to abrupt changes in play. This rule change would only enhance the advantage those teams currently have.

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The rule is already in place in both the G League and the WNBA, and the NBA did actually experiment with the rule already in this year’s Summer League. Apparently the league was pleased with the results.

The expansion of what constitutes a clear-path foul will also only further aid transitional offense. No longer will the defender need to be between the offensive player and the basket to be in violation, as now the rule will penalize defenses from stopping the fast-break altogether. Per Wojnarowski:

Under the changes to the clear-path rule, a clear path to the basket would be in play in these three instances:

• “A personal foul is committed on any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity.”

• “When the foul occurs, the ball is ahead of the tip of the circle in the backcourt, no defensive player is ahead of the offensive player with the scoring opportunity and that offensive player is in control of the ball or a pass to him has been released.”

• “The defensive foul deprives the offensive team of a transition scoring opportunity.”

Finally, the league also wants to expand what constitutes a “hostile act” to now explicitly include interactions with referees and fans, instead of only concerning the players on the court. (I guess, even after all these years, the “Malice at the Palace” still weighs heavy on the mind of some NBA execs.)

My reaction to the news basically amounts to this:

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Do I think it’s going to significantly increase the score of each game? I mean, I guess we might actually see the average total score in a typical game go up a few notches. But does it really matter? Teams are already putting up ungodly offensive numbers every night, and I don’t think the Steph Currys or James Hardens of the world need more opportunity for extra buckets.

But if the goal is to promote pace of play and a more exciting product that keeps fans on the edge of their seats all game rather than being bogged down by sometimes painfully dull half-court, turtle-paced offenses then I guess that’s fine. (This ain’t Saturday morning pickup ball at the Y, people.)

We’ll likely have the official word on all three proposed changes by early October at the latest. For now, stay tuned.

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