Fans and bettors can expect a few slight differences when they watch the NBA this coming year, as the league’s board of governors is expected to pass several rule changes before the season begins.

NBA rule changes
Zach Collins of the Portland Trail Blazers escapes on a breakaway during a 2017 preseason game against the Phoenix Suns. (Image: Craig Mitchelldyer/USA Today Sports)

According to ESPN, areas under consideration include shortening the amount of time on the shot clock after an offensive rebound, a simplification of the clear-path foul rule, and changes to make it easier for a “hostile act” to trigger a replay review.

Shot Clock Changes Could Boost Scoring

The board of governors is expected to vote on the changes during its September 20-21 meeting, with a two-thirds majority needed for each change to pass.

Of the rule changes, the one that could most regularly impact the game is an idea to reset the shot clock to just 14 seconds after offensive rebounds. This rule has already been tested in a number of different competitions: FIBA has used it since 2014, while the WNBA, G League, and the NBA summer league have all tried it.

The belief is that the change will speed up the game, resulting in more shot attempts. In particular, this could impact late game situations when the team with the lead grabs an offensive rebound and wants to run time of the clock. More generally, it may also mean that scoring could go up slightly – something gamblers will want to keep in mind when they consider over/under bets early in the season.

More Reviews for ‘Hostile Acts’

The clear-path foul changes are more subtle. Now, any foul that takes place on an offensive player during “his team’s transition scoring opportunity” will be considered a clear-path foul, which results in two free throws and possession of the ball.

Clear-path fouls will also be called when “the defensive foul deprives the offensive team of a transition scoring opportunity,” or when an offensive player is fouled while ahead of every defensive player, and he either has the ball or a pass to that player has been released.

According to the NBA, these changes would eliminate a lot of the judgement calls that referees currently have to make regarding whether a defender is between the offensive player and the basket, instead giving a clear standard for fouls designed to stop a clear scoring opportunity.

The change to the “hostile act” rule won’t impact gameplay much, but could lead to a few more replay reviews for disciplinary reasons. Currently, the rule only triggers a replay review when a hostile interaction occurs between players; the new version would also allow for replay if there is an incident between a player and a referee, coach, or fan.

Rule changes are common in the NBA, with many seasons seeing several adjustments in an effort to tweak the on-court product. Last year’s changes included an overhaul of the timeout system that resulted in each team getting seven timeouts per game, and a move that put the trading deadline before the All-Star break.

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