8 Rule Changes the NBA May Be Considering
Let play continue on a shot clock violation
The current rule: When an offensive player shoots a shot-clock buzzer beater, the refs blow the whistle when the shot clock hits 0, and play stops so the opposing team can inbound the ball.
The change: Just let play continue. If the defense gets the rebound anyway, let them take the ball like they would on a normal defensive rebound and continue play. If the offense gets the rebound, you can blow the whistle and stop play.
Verdict: 10/10 in favor. I don’t see why play has to stop for this violation. Especially in an era where the league is trying to increase the pace of play and minimize stoppages, this one seems like a no-brainer. There’s really no reason we need to blow the whistle, stop the clock, and re-inbound the ball when play could continue.
The current rule: After a shot hits the rim, neither team can touch it until it is below the rim or outside the cylinder. If the defense touches it, it’s considered goaltending, and the basket counts. If the offense touches it, it’s whistled as offensive interference, and the other team gets the ball.
The change: Once the ball hits the rim, it’s fair game for either team. The offense can tip it in from above, the defense can go up and tip it out or grab it. No more restrictions AFTER the ball hits the rim. Europe plays by this rule.
Verdict: 3/10. While I admit it would be cool to see the NBA’s athletic players go above the rim and see more tip-dunks and athletic rebounds, it would take a while to adjust to this change, and there’s really no problem with how it is now.
The current rule: Each NBA team plays an 82-game regular season.
The change: Shorten the season to somewhere between 60 and 75 games.
Verdict: 4/10. This is a tough one. There are plenty of advantages to a shorter season–there would be more rest for players, and each game would become more meaningful. However, once we mess with the season length, record books are affected. The NBA has such a rich history, and I, for one, am excited to see where players like LeBron and Kevin Durant will end up on the all-time scoring list. If the season was shortened, statistics like that would be altered, and it’s not quite worth that sacrifice.
Move the draft to after free agency
The current rule: The NBA Draft takes place in late June, and free agency begins in early July.
The change: Free agency still begins at the beginning of July, but the draft takes place in mid-late July.
Verdict: 7/10. I’ve always found it odd that the draft is so soon after the Finals. In 2016, the last time the Finals went to seven games, the draft took place four days after the Finals ended. To maximize content and interest, the NBA should move the draft, because there’s always plenty of hype around who will draft who. Meanwhile, NBA teams may appreciate using the draft to patch up holes in free agency. Summer league could be moved back too, and the NBA would be pretty close to a 12-month sport.
Officially go positionless
The current rule: All-star teams are split into guards and frontcourt players, while All-NBA teams are separated into guards, forwards, and centers.
The change: No more restrictions based off position.
Verdict: 9/10. The NBA made a step in this direction when they chose “frontcourt” instead of forwards and centers. In 2017, the Eastern Conference starters were Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. There’s no true center in that lineup, but it still worked as a five-man unit. However, there are still flaws. Luka Doncic is listed as a frontcourt player, a guy who often runs the point for Dallas. Going positionless is the clear solution.
Do the All-Star Draft on the court before the game
The current rule: The All-Star draft will be televised, but a couple weeks before the game.
The change: Like a true pick-up game, the draft takes place on the court right before the game.
Verdict: 9/10. Televising the draft is a great move. NBA fans can’t wait to see the selections, the order, and the players’ reactions. But doing it on the court right before the game would be a great way to add drama and make it feel like a real pick-up game.
Seed the playoffs 1-16, regardless of conference
The current rule: One side of the playoff bracket is designated to the Eastern Conference, while the other is designated to the West.
The change: No matter which conference the teams are in, the playoffs are seeded 1-16, and inter-conference matchups can take place throughout.
Verdict: 8/10. LeBron’s Cavaliers were notorious for throwing away the regular season. Confident they could beat any team in the East on the road, they coasted until the playoffs, getting the 4 seed last season, but still making the Finals with relative ease. Had the league been seeded 1-16, the Cavs (6 seed) would have met the Warriors (3 seed) in the SECOND round. That’s some motivation to try harder in the regular season. The downside here is the tradition of East vs. West in the Finals, but I think the conferences are uneven enough that fans would like to see a fairer seeding system.
Play-in tourney for 8 seeds
The current rule: The 8 seeds go to the team with the 8th best record
The change: The top 7 teams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, and other eight play a single-elimination tournament for the 8th spot.
Verdict: 4/10. This would be fun to watch, for sure. Adam Silver has talked about some type of single-game tournament in the NBA, whatever the reward might be. I would like to see draft odds be included somehow. Maybe the winner, or the finalists, get some type of higher chance at a high draft pick. In the end, this would be too big a change for me to be fully on board. But a better-constructed idea of a single-elimination tournament would definitely get my attention.