Culture of Hoops

Understanding the New NBA Rule Changes

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The NBA’s Board of Governors passed three significant rule changes for the 2018-19 season, and while it’s not uncommon for the league to make changes to the way game is played, it will be interesting to see how these new rule changes play out on the court. The NBA has said that these changes are intended to improve the quality and pace of the game and will hopefully create a better product overall. It makes sense considering they’ve already introduced new, relaxed rules on in-game sneakers – the NBA is bringing basketball into a new era. Without further ado, here’s a quick rundown of the new rules for this season.

Shot Clock Reset

The shot clock will now reset to 14 seconds instead of 24 after offensive rebounds. The shot clock will reset in the case of three scenarios: after an offensive rebound off a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim, when a loose ball foul is called on the defensive team after a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim, or when the offensive team gains possession of the ball after it has went out of bounds following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim.
This is quite a significant change and will most affect the end of a game when the score is close. In fact, the rule has been in effect in the FIBA, WNBA, G League as well as the NBA Summer League games. Fourteen seconds is still enough time to put up another shot as we’re hoping this tweak will speed up the pace of the game, which is a welcome change.

Image Courtesy of Philadelphia 76ers/Facebook

Clear Path Foul

Another change this season is the simplification of the Clear Path Foul rule. Here’s an explanation from the NBA on how the rule is going to work:

“A clear path foul is now defined as a personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity in the following circumstances: the ball is ahead of the tip of the circle in the backcourt; no defender is ahead of the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity; the player with the transition scoring opportunity is in control of the ball (or a pass has been thrown to him); and if the foul deprives his team of an opportunity to score.”

This change is designed to make it easier for referees to know when to call a clear path foul. A “bright line” rule has been introduced and is based on the position of the players at the time of the foul. This is intended to reduce judgement calls from referees and leave less room for interpretation. Clear path fouls don’t happen that often so it’ll be interesting to see if this does have an impact on making the referee’s job easier. The NBA provides a full explanation of the clear path foul rule.

“Hostile Act” definition expanded

The final rule change is an expanded definition of a “hostile act.” Referees will have the ability to review hostile acts made by players and coaches and will be able to determine the appropriate penalty if they are involved in hostile encounters. Referees will go to replay review if a hostile act is not only committed against a player, but involves a referee, coach, or fan. This rule change is a no-brainer really, as it makes the referee’s job easier if a player is involved in any sort of altercation. Truth be told, hostile acts don’t occur that often either, so we’re unsure if this will make a big difference to the sport.

That’s not all that’s new this season. LeBron James, one of the highest paid players in the NBA, recently signed with the Los Angeles Lakers back in July. He says his move to the Lakers has nothing to do with his Hollywood career and that his focus is basketball. There’s also a new referee on the court, Brandon Adair, who came to the NBA with two years experience in the G League and four years at the college level.

The new rule changes should be beneficial for the sport as we look forward to seeing more fast-paced quality games this season. If you haven’t already, check out our predictions for the 2018-19 season.

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