New York Times reported this morning that the NBA will be expanding its use of instant replay during games. Refs will now be able to review any last second shot to see if it was released in time. They will also be able to use instant replay to check an out-of-bounds call (in the final two minutes of the game only).The expansion of instant replay on shots makes sense to me. The NBA has already set up their instant replay review optimally. Lights around the backboard, as well as on the scorer’s table along with the use of multiple camera angles make the NBA’s instant replay process painless. It takes much, much less time than the brutal NFL instant replay sessions that can drag on 5 to 10 minutes sometimes. Most last second shot reviews in the NBA take last than 5 minutes to complete. The expansion to full game review also makes sense, because any ill-gotten two points can cost a team a game – it doesn’t have to come with only a few ticks left.
Reviewing out-of-bounds calls might be more tricky, and no doubt this is why it has been relegated to the last two minutes of a game. Refs will likely need to take multiple looks at the closely disputed calls. This could increase the length of the review sessions. Generally speaking though, with a smaller playing field than football, and generally good camera penetration, this should not be a debacle either. And of course, it’s good to get the calls right at the end of a game.
The most interesting aspect of this expansion is that it will first be used by replacement referees. It’ll be interesting to see how many calls are overturned. And we’ll see how much ammo that gives the NBRA. What is a timely and effective update of instant replay rules may improve the basketball product, while at the same time weakening the NBA’s position in collective bargaining.