Grading the NBA’s New Rules of Play


Per Ric Bucher at ESPN, the NBA has announced their new rules and emphasis changes for this year.  These rules will definitely have an impact of the style of play this season.  The impact may even be greater than other years as the refs will literally have fewer games to loosen their emphasis/fall back on old habits.

  1. Rip through moves, like the one originated by Reggie Miller (so you know it’s REALLY cheap) and recently mastered by Kevin Durant, will no longer be a shooting foul.  The problem is that the call is still a foul.  I’m not sure how launching your arms and chest into a motionless defender is anything other than an offensive foul.  Generally, I’m in favor of making this a no-call situation, and letting the result of the play stand.  This does remove a lot of cheapness from the game though.  Make no mistake, this will lower Kevin Durant’s (and other superstars to a lesser degree) free throws per game as he’ll be making much fewer free trips to the line for two or three gimmies. GRADE: B-
  2.  When driving to the basket, a player will only be awarded a shooting foul if the shooting movement has begun prior to the defensive contact.  So basically, a player like LeBron will only get two free throws if he is fouled after his arms go up for a shot.  Otherwise, fouls early in the drive will result in a non-shooting foul.  I don’t mind this alteration too much.  It does remove some of the calls that favor stronger offensive players, which is good.  It does add more subjectivity to the refereeing of drives, which is probably bad.  It rewards stopping a drive early with a foul, which is good if you think defenses need a little help in today’s game (and they do!).  I’m worried though that it might deincentivize driving to the hoop a little too much though.  We’ll see . . . Grade: C+
  3. Refs have been instructed to continue to focus on travelling violations, both in the post and on the perimeter.  I actually love the way the NBA has gone about this.  The refs slowly allowed more and more leniency over the year when it came to travelling.  Now the NBA is slowly ratcheting it back.  This kind of process takes years, and it’s the right way to acclimiate the players to stricter adherence to the rules of dribbling.  Grade: A+
  4. Refs will be more attentive to rebounding battles, particularly in regards to the tying up of arms and hands.  I kind of hate this, because the great thing about rebounding battles is how they combine extreme physicality with extreme trickiness.  Personally, I implement every dirty trick I can think of to get a board, so it saddens me to see more scrutiny brought to this part of the game.  In the long run though, refs paying more attention to the tricks rewards positioning, strength, and desire for the ball.  That’s a good thing.  Grade: A+
  5. No substitutions during technical foul or flagrant foul free throws.  Teams not out on the court in a timely fashion will receive a delay-of-game warning.  Instant replay can only be used during full timeouts.  These three rules have been added to speed up the game, of which I am in favor.  Teams will now receive a warning horn and a final horn when it comes to timeout length, which is a good idea.  Hard not to like things that streamline the viewing process.  Grade: A+
  6. The three point line and mid court line do not extend vertically.  That is to say, the lines only matter if you are physically touching them.  So you can have your whole left leg over the three point line without touching the ground, but if you right leg is clearly behind the line and touching the ground, you are in three point territory.  Seems like a minor change, unless someone develops a runner from out there.  Grade: B
  7. The eight second clock will sound at 15 seconds instead of 16.  Shot clock will be a “true” clock.  This will make it a full eight second clock and tie in with the changes for the shot clock, which will now show tenths of a second.  Pretty much a no-brainer on both of these.  Grade: A+
  8. Contact made with a defenseless offensive player in mid-air will result in a flagrant 2.  I don’t want to hear it, old-timers.  I don’t care about how Moses Malone and Artis Gilmore would take steel chairs wrapped in barbed wire, set them on fire, and blast each other with enough headshots to make Mick Foley blush.  I DO care that Larry Bird couldn’t play as long as he could have because the refs allowed the rest of the Association to use him like a pinata.  Today’s players are bigger, stronger, faster, and more valuable than they ever have been.  It makes sense to protect them when they are most vulnerable.  Besides, defense shouldn’t be about how much you can scare a guy by hurting him.  It should be about moving your feet, communication with your teammates, and making sure the guy never gets the shot he wants.  All that being said, a flagrant 2 off the bat is too much.  There should still be a judgement allowed based on the severity of the foul to call a flagrant 1 or 2.  Grade: B

One Response to “Grading the NBA’s New Rules of Play”

  1. jpalumbo Says:

    I’d like to make at least one argument on this list, but I think you nailed it.

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