NBA Changes: The One International Rule the NBA Absolutely Must Institute
The more I think about an NBA world in which basket interference is allowed, the more excited I get for the direction the NBA is headed.
In FIBA rules, you may not goaltend a shot on its way down, but once it has hit the rim and is on or above the cylinder, it’s fair game for the craftiest of players. As David Stern tries to convince the Competition Committee to implement this little nugget into the NBA, I think we should all begin to imagine how this would shape the league and why it’s a move that can’t fail.
Over roughly the last decade, the NBA has gone from being a defensive-minded league that physically stopped perimeter players to gearing a league that is focused on getting perimeter players closer to the basket. This wasn’t just a way to boost scoring; it was a way to boost interest in the NBA.
People were sick of the Antoine Walkers of the world just jacking up three-pointers because it was too taxing to drive to the basket. Instead, the NBA took away the ability to physically guide a player away from the hoop and it opened everything completely.
The give-and-take of allowing offensive wing players to have the upper hand forced defenses to become far less physical and much more strategic. Learn to force a pick-and-roll baseline to cut down the size of the halfcourt and your defensive rotations could make you a smothering system.
While the direction of the game has been spectacular from an aesthetic vantage point, it’s almost become too in favor of getting guys to play at the rim. Not allowing the perimeter defender to offer up proper resistance and just funneling him to a wall of players has made the league style of play fairly predictable. Some teams in the playoffs showed a decent adjustment is to start pick-and-rolls from farther out on the court, but it’s still the same style of play.
By allowing offensive and defensive interference, you’re bringing in an entirely different aspect to the NBA. It’s one that will get the game from trending toward the rim to being completely above the rim. The unpredictability of not knowing when Blake Griffin or JaVale McGee or even someone like Jeremy Evans will swoop in to slam home a shot dancing over the hoop adds a whole new world of "oohs and ahs."
It means the game continues to evolve and new strategies are possible to emerge. It turns the effort and focus of rebounding to be as much fundamental as it is athletic. There could be a bigger emphasis on boxing out, unless you want to risk getting dunked on going for a rebound. Defensively, it allows you to knock away rolling shots and ignite fastbreaks a lot quicker.
In fact, the next great coaching evolution (like Mike D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds Or Less, or Tom Thibodeau’s pick-and-roll defensive system) could come simply from learning how to exploit such a rule.
It was recently implemented into the D-League, and the results seem to be mostly positive. While it was feared that it could lead to a rash of in-air injuries and collisions, it’s mainly led to exciting plays above the rim that aren’t possible under the current rulebook of the NBA.
If we’re trying to continue to grow the game and make it more exciting so that television contracts, league revenues, and viewership numbers continue to trend upward, it seems like this is the next logical step toward fueling the NBA’s fire.
Take away basket interference over the rim, and you’ll allow the NBA to get even better. That’s what we all want as fans, right?
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