The NBA Board of Governors approved three rule changes that will take effect beginning with the 2018-19 season, the league announced in a statement. The changes, though minor, will impact different areas of every game this year.
Here is a breakdown of each change we’ll see this season:
Shot clock resets to 14 seconds
According to the NBA, the shot clock will reset to 14 seconds — not 24 seconds — in three scenarios:
- After an offensive rebound of a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim
- After a loose ball foul is called on the defensive team immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim
- After the offensive team gets possession of the ball after it goes out of bounds immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim.
This rule change was made in an effort to speed the game up. It has been implemented in FIBA competition since 2014, in the WNBA since 2016, and in the G-League since the 2016-17 season.
But according to data from Nylon Calculus, most NBA possessions following an offensive rebound last season resulted in a shot attempt zero to five seconds later. This will though prevent teams that benefit from grabbing offensive rebounds late in close games from dribbling the clock out before hoisting up a shot.
A simpler clear path foul definition
This one’s a little trickier, so let’s try to break it down as simple as possible. There are now a list of requirements for a referee to be able to whistle a clear path foul during a transition scoring opportunity:
- 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
- The foul deprives his team of an opportunity to score.
The list of prerequisites needed to call a clear path foul now makes it less of a judgment call and more of a call reinforced by a set of laws. The NBA’s league office posted a video on Twitter that shows examples of how the rule changed from last year:
The NBA Board of Governors today unanimously approved rules changes in advance of the 2018-19 season. This includes a simplification of the clear path foul rule. To view examples of the clear path foul rule simplification, see the video below. pic.twitter.com/HQjJCqK5rv— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) September 21, 2018
If a defender is making a play on the ball and bumps the offensive player in a transition scoring opportunity, or if the defender fouls a player in the act of shooting, it is no longer considered a clear path foul.
In addition, if any defender is ahead of the player with a transition scoring opportunity, a clear path foul cannot be called. In past seasons, referees made judgment calls to determine if the defender ahead of the play was in position to influence a transition scoring opportunity.
Expanded definition of “hostile act”
The definition of a hostile act has also been broadened for instant replay purposes. The expanded definition will allow referees to review plays to “determine the appropriate penalty for players or coaches if they are involved in hostile encounters with each other, referees or fans.”
No further explanation was given, but if things get messy during a game, officials will be taking their time to determine the proper course of action.
These rule changes won’t prove to be anything drastic, but it’s a collective step by the NBA toward honing an already impeccable product.