3 rule changes for the NBA

May 03, 2012

NBA playoff season is here, one of my favorite times of the year. As always, I’ll be rooting for my Lakers to win #17, and Kobe to win #6. I will be hating on Lebron and the Miami Heat. I seriously loathe that team, even more than the Celtics. Anyway, as much as I love NBA basketball, there are a few rules that really bug me, and could easily be changed to improve the game.

1. No more jump balls

All of my rule changes take a cue from college basketball. The jump ball is such a silly mess. I don’t know why they even bother with it. First of all, it’s too hard to toss the ball perfectly straight and at the right height. Most of the time, the toss is horrible, and they either have to redo it, or whoever happened to be closer to the lopsided toss gets it. Other times, people will be jostling for position, and the ref has to stop and make sure there are no violations. And then even if someone controls the tip, there’s often a lot of contact among the other players, and it ends up going to the other team. The solution to this problem is simple. Just alternate possessions like they do in college. It’s much simpler and more fair than a jump ball. The height and jumping ability of players involved in a held ball shouldn’t dictate who gets it. Neither should a bad toss.

2. Penalty free throws should be one-in-one

In the NBA, after 5 team fouls (per quarter), every foul is considered penalty and results in two free throws. In college, at 7 team fouls (per half), you shoot one-in-one, meaning if you miss the first one, the ball is live, and you don’t get a second shot. At 10 team fouls, you get two shots. I love the one-in-one rule because it punishes bad free throw shooting, and opens more possibilities for comebacks and closer exciting games. It also rewards players that develop the fundamental skills instead of just relying on their athleticism. For the NBA, I would make the first 3 penalty fouls one-in-one just like college, but per quarter.

3. No more defensive 3 seconds

I really don’t understand this rule. The NBA used to only allow man-to-man defense. They changed the rule to allow zone defense, but added the rule that you can’t be in the paint more than 3 seconds unless you’re within arm’s length of an opposing player. Apparently this is supposed to prevent defenses from “clogging the paint”. But why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? Every defense is beatable with the right offensive scheme. If someone’s clogging the paint, they’re giving up the perimeter. Find your shooters and make them pay. You should be allowed to play any defense you want. It’s up to the offense to figure out how to beat it.

Honorable mention - 1st round of playoffs should go back to best of 5

This isn’t really a rule change, but I much prefer the old way of having the first round of playoffs being best of 5. Most of the first round matchups end up being pretty lopsided and uninteresting, so why put teams through the hassle of winning 4 games instead of 3? By the end of the playoffs, guys are so tired, that you end up with some ugly games. I think the quality of play would increase if the first round was shorter.

And here are a couple fun ones as food for thought.

Shots from behind half court are worth 4 points

These shots are rare enough that they should get an extra point when they happen. There are some players that have pretty decent accuracy from that range, and this might encourage more attempts, which I think viewers would enjoy.

If still tied after one overtime period, each team chooses one player for a game of one-on-one

Basketball is a team game, but people pay to see the superstars. This would create the ultimate stage for some epic showdowns. First to 10 points wins.