Get rid of Hack-a-Shaq? Add a four-point line? SI.com's writers debate NBA rule changes.
If you were commissioner for a day, what rule changes would you make to the NBA? Get rid of Hack-a-Shaq? Add a four-point line? Make games shorter? With the off-season in full swing and our imaginations running wild, SI.com paneled its NBA experts to discuss what changes they would make if they were in Adam Silver's shoes.
What rule change would you like to see in the NBA?
Lee Jenkins: Get rid of Hack-a-Shaq
I’m tired of watching DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard shoot free throws, talking about watching DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard shoot free throws, and listening to broadcasters talk about watching DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard shoot free throws. I understand why the NBA doesn’t want to change a rule to cater to a couple of guys, but those guys aren’t going anywhere, and their long walk to the charity stripe will continue to hijack otherwise wildly entertaining games. Call intentional fouls intentional, give the teams possession plus the free throws, and see more Chris Paul lobs and James Harden pull-ups.
Chris Ballard: Clarify flagrant fouls
The urge to protect players is understandable. So is the urge to minimize cheap shots. But the current rules for flagrants are overly complicated—go ahead, try to explain to them to someone in simple language—and the resulting enforcement can be too punitive. These are very large, very strong, athletic men. Bodies are going to collide. Players are going to try to gain leverage. Once upon a time, a hard foul was a hard foul. Now we have tiers of flagrants. Video review brings further penalties. Intent is parsed. And there's a ton at stake - star players sitting out important games. Last year Kobe said some of the flagrant fouls in the NBA "make me nauseous". Hard to argue.
Phil Taylor: Reduce timeouts
Six per game plus one 20-second timeout per half is simply too much, especially when added to the number of TV timeouts. This is particularly a problem near the end of close games, when coaches frequently muck up free-flowing affairs with constant stoppages, and it seems like the broadcast is cutting away to a Cialis commercial every 10 seconds. Teams are currently allowed three timeouts in the fourth quarter and no more than two in the final two minutes of the game. Cut those numbers to two in the fourth and only one in the final two minutes, and—this is critical—eliminate back-to-back timeouts. There's nothing worse than, say, Steve Kerr calling time to set up a play, the Warriors and Cavs returning to the floor, and then David Blatt immediately calling another T.O. as soon he sees how Golden State is lined up. I hate that. If we wanted to see that many huddles we'd watch football.
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Michael Rosenberg: Fix the lottery
Tanking is ridiculous, we're all tired of talking about it, and it's easily fixed. You could go with Mark Cuban's idea: Don't let the team with the worst record have the No. 1 pick. That would discourage tanking. But the best solution is simply to flatten the odds. I have written about this before, but the NBA could easily tweak the odds so that the seven worst teams all have a 10% chance of winning the lottery. The three best non-playoff teams would have a 2% chance. The other lottery teams would have between a 3-9% chance. This way, teams in the playoff hunt would still compete, because a playoff berth would be a bigger incentive than a 2% chance to win the lottery. And the worst teams would still try, because there would be no incentive to tank. Problem solved, mostly.
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Ben Golliver: Fix instant replay
It's time to simplify and speed up the instant replay review system. Under the current setup, the game referees continue to make the final determination on calls from the floor with the help of a courtside television monitor. That decision is aided by the NBA's centralized command booth in New Jersey, which controls the camera angles that the referees see. The courtside monitor remains the weakest link in this system, which has evolved and improved a bit over the last few years, and I'd like to see it removed from the equation. Once the game referees initiate a video review, the entire process—including the verdict—should be completed by an official at the command center and then relayed to the referees for speedy implementation. No more bending over and squinting at a monitor. No more huddling for negotiations that drag the process along. I fully understand the game referees want total control over their dominion, but the quality of the final product for both the television and the in-stadium audiences should take priority over the referees' need for control.
Matt Dollinger: Shave the shot clock
The NBA is at its best when it features two teams pushing the tempo, playing in the open floor and creating fast-break situations. That tends to fade away every spring when the playoffs roll around, but there might be a way to fix this: reduce the shot clock to 20 seconds. When the NBA first introduced the shot clock in 1954-55, teams began averaging 13.6 more points per game than the year before. With basketball continuing to evolve, it might be time for the rules to follow suit 60 years later. Compare these numbers: the median NBA team shot 53.6% from the field when the shot clock was between 22-18 seconds last season. During the last four seconds of the clock—the four I'm proposing we get rid of—the median team shot 34.8%. Let's discourage teams from pounding the rock for 20 seconds and putting up a prayer and encourage teams to move the ball and try and get a shot quickly. A 20-second shot clock would lead to more possessions, more points and fewer lulls.