While I believe the NBA and FIBA games to be more similar than different, the FIBA does have its beautiful quirks. The NBA has already benefited from adopting the FIBA model of legalized zone defense. Given that we're fresh off an era of creative defensive schemes, and exciting guard-play to combat such strategies, I'd say the implementation was a success.
But why stop there? Let's get greedy. What else can we take from our friends overseas? Much as I love the NBA game, few would insist that it's absolutely perfect. There are improvements to be made all around, especially when it comes to the end of games. Check out this thrilling Real Madrid finish, for example:
Notice how their game flows quickly, how there aren't a bunch of momentum-stifling timeouts. There is a reason for this. It's not just because the coaches were lazy. The European game allows for fewer timeouts. In FIBA specifically, teams get five total timeouts. (In the NBA, teams get eight, including two 20-second TOs.)
Fewer timeouts allows for more organic, offense-heavy game endings. Planning is an advantage to the defense, which is partially why crunch-time offenses perform so poorly. Defense is about five guys moving as one choreographed entity. Offense is about one guy penetrating through the defense. Given that difference between the goals, you can see why a blueprint is better for point prevention.
Fans don't want point prevention, though. They want made baskets and building energy. A timeout serves the purpose of deflating an excited crowd? But do we want crowds un-excited? Is that the goal of an entertaining sport? I think not. Also, if the NBA adopted FIBA rules on TOs, I doubt fans would miss all the dead time.
Legalized Offensive Goaltending
Is there a counter argument to this, apart from how it will reward Dwight Howard, most annoying man of the offseason? The offense should be allowed to score by any which means. Why do we care if they're dunking the ball as it's above the cylinder? What is the justification for stopping exciting basketball action because the dunk came too quickly?
Take this LeBron James tip-dunk against Boston in his historic Game 6. It may have been goaltending, but it thankfully was not called. I suspect that the refs refused to call an infraction because the play was just that awesome.
If legalizing offensive goaltending results in more plays like this, then I am all for it. This could kickstart an era of hyper-aggressive put-backs. Josh Smith will get 10 percent more fun to watch. Dwight Howard, though it's awful to see him rewarded in any way, will become a must-see viewing experience. Like reducing timeouts, this would simply make the game more enjoyable.
Spanish Players are Allowed to Travel
Kidding, but it did seem in the exhibition game as though Team Spain was permitted to walk with the ball while Team USA was whistled every other possession. There is no official FIBA rule that allows this, but I wouldn't even be opposed to an NBA allowance. Imagine what Ricky Rubio could do with legalized traveling? Imagine how angry Kobe would get at Pau for not capitalizing on this advantage?
Have you see what the lane looks like in FIBA? It's quirky and lovely and appears to be a cartoon rendering. The trapezoid shape fools the eye into thinking that the lane extends far into the horizon, as though this is a court the Monstars would play on. I doubt it would change the game much, and I'm fine with this change, if only for aesthetic reasons.
Sorry, FIBA, I like my hight point totals. Passing on this one.
Shorter Three-Point Distance
I am in favor of the FIBA-regulation 20' 6.1" three-point line because it would even out the big man advantage that legalized offensive goal tending would lead to. Sometimes, you need to accept one FIBA rule to balance out another. Today is one of those "sometimes."
The shorter distance boosts point totals, something that I am consistently in favor of. While I can appreciate the beauty of defense, I love offense, just like everyone else. Imagine what D'Antoni's "seven seconds or less" Suns era would have looked like with a short three-point line. If Kevin Durant wants an MVP award, he should be secretly lobbying for this.
The NBA is a better game, but that's because there is more basketball talent in America. The NBA does not have superior rules and, in fact, has improved due to adopting rules from overseas. Let us learn from our friends and further improve the world's most beautiful game.
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