Good, Better and Best of NBA's Rule Changes for 2014-15 Season

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterOctober 17, 2014

Good, Better and Best of NBA's Rule Changes for 2014-15 Season

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The NBA has implemented a few rules changes heading into the 2014-15 season. And most of them are tough to argue against. 

    Many include the expansion of instant replay. To some, this slows a game down that's fairly long in the first place. To others in favor of replay, it's about getting the calls right. 

    Personally, I'm all for replay. I'd rather a 156-minute game with the right calls than a 150-minute game with a wrong one here and there.

    I went ahead and broke down each rule change by determining how it helps the game, or in some cases, how it hurts. 

    You can find all the rules via ProBasketballTalk's Brett Pollakoff

Expanded Replay on out-of-Bounds Calls

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Rule: Officials may now conduct an instant replay review whenever they are not reasonably certain as to which team should be awarded possession after a ball becomes out of bounds or whether an out of bounds in fact occurred during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of overtime period(s). Previously, officials could only use replay if they weren’t reasonably certain as to which of two players on opposing teams caused the ball to become out of bounds.

    I'm not sure how big of a change this is considering it seemed like every questionable out-of-bounds call is reviewed in the last two minutes of games anyway. 

    According to last year's rules, officials were only able to check the replay if the play in question was between two opposing players. 

    They can now check it whenever, whether it's between two players or six fighting for a loose ball. 

    Again, I'm not sure how much this changes things, but for what it's worth, the rule makes sense. It would have been a shame if an official couldn't check the replay during a critical possession because three players were involved and not two.

    Rule Change Assessment: Best

Expanded Replay on off-Ball Fouls During Made Baskets

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Rule: Officials may now utilize instant replay any time they are not certain when any player (offensive or defensive) without the ball was fouled relative to the timing of a successful shot. Prior to this change, officials could only review the timing when an offensive player without the ball was fouled.

    On occasion, you'll see a foul called off the ball at or around the same time a shot is made. But officials were only able to review the timing of the foul if it was committed on the defense. 

    If it was and it occurred while the ball was still in the air, the off-ball offensive player fouled would get a free throw. 

    Now they can check the timing of when an off-ball offensive foul occurs while a shot is being made. Because if it occurs before the shot, then the basket would be negated. 

    You don't see the situation come up often, but it's only fair that officials are able to go to the replay for offensive and defensive fouls considering the significance of the timing for each. 

    Rule Change Assessment: Best

Expanded Replay on Flagrant Fouls

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Rule: Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a flagrant foul. Previously, the foul had to be called a flagrant on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.

    This rule might slow down the game a little bit, but it makes sense. Last year, officials could only review a flagrant foul if it was ruled flagrant in the first place.

    Now, officials can check any foul with replay to see if it was dirty or unnecessary. 

    Of course, this means guys won't be getting away with as many dirty plays. But it also means more stopping to check.

    Last postseason, Josh McRoberts was called for a common foul on the floor, which prevented the officials from being able to review it. However, the league was able to review it after the game, and it concluded McRoberts' foul was not common at all. They later fined him for a flagrant despite being called for a personal. 

    If the McRoberts foul would have happened in 2014-15, officials would have been able to change the personal to a flagrant after reviewing the replay. 

    At the end of the day, nobody likes seeing a dirty play go unpunished. This rule should help eliminate that possibility. 

    Rule Change Assessment: Best

Shot Clock Won't Reset on Jump Balls Caused by Defense Under Five Seconds

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Rule: The shot clock will no longer be reset to five seconds when a held ball is caused by the defense with fewer than five seconds remaining on the clock.

    This might be the most sensible rule change of them all. Prior to the change, if there was one, two, three or four seconds remaining on the shot clock and the defense caused a jump ball, the shot clock would reset to five seconds if the offense won the subsequent tip. 

    But why reward the offense by putting more time on the clock—when it was the defense who made the standout play to cause the jump ball to begin with?

    Now, if the shot clock is down to two seconds and the defense grabs the ball, forcing the refs to call a jump, the shot clock remains at two even if the offense retains possession after the tip.

    There's no reason it shouldn't. This was the NBA's strongest rule change, and one that could come into play on game-to-game basis. 

    "It'll be different now," Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "It'll just have to be a tip to a catch, and almost a volleyball."

    Rule Change Assessment: Best

Loss of Possession for Too Many Men on the Floor

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    Dave Tulis/Associated Press

    Rule: If a team has too many players on the court while the ball is in play, (i) the offending team would both be assessed a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and lose possession if it had possession at the time the violation was discovered, and (ii) the non-offending team would continue to have the option of either accepting or nullifying the game action that occurred during the violation.  Previously, if the offending team had possession, it would keep possession of the ball despite the violation.

    Though it rarely ever happens, this new rule actually punishes a team for sending out too many men on the floor. It should. You get penalized for it in other sports. Why not hoops—especially considering how easy it is to count to five?

    Last year, if you sent out six men during game play, you'd only get a slap on the wrist or a delay-of-game type of warning. 

    Next season, you give up possession to the other team. It also allows the non-offending five-man lineup to choose to nullify what happened prior when its opponent had six men on the floor. 

    It's a little crazy to think that if the refs didn't catch a six-man lineup scoring a bucket until after they scored it, there was nothing they could do. 

    Rule Change Assessment: Better

In Overtime, Instant Replay Use Only Permitted Last Two Minutes

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Rule: Instant replay triggers that are currently in effect only during the last two minutes of regulation and the entire overtime period(s) instead shall be in effect only during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of overtime period(s).

    So nothing has changed with regard to regulation—if there's a call that needs instant replay review, it can only be used in the last two minutes. 

    But previously, officials were allowed to check replay throughout the entire overtime period. Not anymore. 

    Now, officials may only check replay the last two minutes of overtime. And you have to assume the change was made so the game isn't constantly being interrupted. 

    If you ask me, in overtime, those interruptions should be welcome if it means getting the calls right.

    I can't wait for the first awful call to be made with three minutes left in overtime of a big game—and the refs can't review it because it didn't happen one minute later. 

    Rule Change Assessment: Good but Needs Improvement

Teams May Freely Substitute Players Whenever Any Timeout Is Called

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    Rule: Teams may freely substitute players whenever any timeout is called. Prior to this change, there were limited circumstances in which a team couldn’t substitute for certain players at timeouts.

    Being able to substitute freely during timeouts should have been a given. Apparently, there were "limited circumstances" in which a team couldn't do so. 

    Still, players should have to be ready at the scorer's table during dead balls prior to checking in, but during a timeout, there's no reason why teams shouldn't be able to make a switch whenever they please.

    Rule Change Assessment: Best

Expanded Replay on Clear-Path-to-the-Basket Fouls

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    AJ MAST/Associated Press

    Rule: Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a clear-path-to-the-basket foul. Previously, the foul had to be called a clear-path foul on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.

    This rule allows officials to check if a foul was of the clear-path-to-the-basket variety, whether that's how it was originally called or not. 

    As CBS Sports' Matt Moore wrote, "Clear-path foul reviews are already interminable, and that's with it needing to be called first."

    Determining clear-path fouls is a process. 

    Normally, officials have to decide whether or not the player with the ball had a clear path to the basket, and whether the defender who fouled him was behind or in front of the man with the ball at the time of the foul. But there's not always a black-and-white, definitive answer. 

    The fear is that officials will start going to replay whenever a defender tries preventing a fast break by fouling. 

    We don't need them constantly checking on something that rarely even happens in the first place. This replay expansion might be a little over the top. 

    Rule Change Assessment: Good but Needs Improvement

Officials Allowed to Check Replay to Count Players on the Floor

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Rule: Officials may utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain a team had an improper number of players on the court while the ball was in play.

    This rule change seems obvious. Though it rarely ever happens, if there's a discrepancy regarding the amount of players on the floor, this gives the officials a chance to go back and take a look. 

    It can't possibly take more than a couple of seconds to count each team's players on the floor. It's probably either five or six. There's no grey area here. 

    Rule Change Assessment: Better