10 Rule Changes That Would Benefit The NBA

Lance PaukerCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2010

10 Rule Changes That Would Benefit The NBA

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics talks with referee Joe DeRosa while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User ex
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Rules were made to be broken. 

    Well, not entirely. There is, however, some degree of truth to that statement. 

    In any competitive endeavor, rules serve primarily as guidelines intended to maximize the fruition of a sport. No matter how one may look at it, rules are necessary.

    Even if they are interpreted as necessary evils. 

    Think about it. Without fouls, basketball games would spiral out of control, likely representing more of a wrestling match. Although such may be case at your local playground, professional sports, professional organization must always adhere to their guidelines if the sport is to maintain integrity.

    Tic-tac fouls may prove to be exceedingly annoying, but they are sometimes crucial to preserving a free flow of basketball. Without them, defenders would be easily tempted to playing with a physicality worthy of Ray Lewis. 

    There is however, a tremendous downside here. Some rules, for a lack of a better phrase, are just flat out terrible. These are the ones that do nothing to preserve, promote, or improve the game.

    In fact, continued fidelity to such awful criterion creates a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

    In such circumstances, even the quasi-evil specimen known as the referee is at a loss to justify his call, even if it is, according to the rules, the right one.  

    In hopes of weeding out the handful bad rules that currently lurk the courts of the National Basketball Association, this slideshow will look at 10 possible rule changes that would improve the NBA. Although open to debate, these possible alterations would hopefully have fans, players, coaches, and referees all bond in unison to profoundly declare, "I love this game!"

10. Offensive Goaltending

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 29:  Mehmet Okur #13 and Carlos Boozer #5 of the Utah Jazz lobby unsuccessfully for an offensive goaltending call against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at the Toyota C
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Offensive goaltending occurs when a player interferes with a ball that is inside the imaginary cylinder created by the rim, or if the player interferes with the rim in any way while the ball is in said imaginary cylinder. 

    Why it is terrible:

    There's really no need for it. The objective of basketball is for the team with the ball to score. Offensive goaltending only hinders this objective.

    More importantly, the above-the-rim style of play that we have seen emerge in the past two decades is highly conducive to tip-ins, alley oops, and other versions of scoring that generally defy the boundaries of an average jump shot. Extreme athleticism is what sets basketball apart from more earth-bound sports such as baseball, hockey, and even football. Why limit such an integral part of your sport?

    More often than not, offensive goaltending only hurts the offensive team. If the ball is already inside the imaginary cylinder, chances are its going to go in. A deflection of any sort has the risk of altering the trajectory of the ball, giving it an increased chance of exiting the cylinder, and in turn, the net. 

    The rule is obnoxious, caters to the unathletic, and does nothing in terms of improving the game. It makes everyone a little bit less aggressive around the rim, compromising the high-flying potential of the sport. 

9. Traveling Should Be Two Steps, Not Four

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    Funnily enough, this one doesn't actually require a rule change.

    If you've watched an NBA game, you'll know that referee's are generally unaware that traveling is defined as such:

    Section VII—Pivot

    a. A pivot takes place when a player, who is holding the ball, steps once or more than once in any direction with the same foot, with the other foot (pivot foot) in contact with the floor.

    b. If the player wishes to dribble after a pivot, the ball must be out of his hand before the pivot foot is raised off the floor. If the player raises his pivot off the floor, he must pass or attempt a field goal before the foot is returned to the floor.

    If he fails to follow these guidelines, he has committed a traveling violation.

    Section VIII—Traveling

    Traveling is progressing in any direction while in possession of the ball, which is in excess of prescribed limits as noted in Rule 4—Section VII and Rule 10—Section XIII.

    ***Courtesy of the 2009-2010 Official NBA Rule Book

    For further evidence, see video above. 

8. Institute One-and-One Free Throws

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    BOSTON - MAY 22:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic gets set to shoot a free throw atttempt against the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2010 in Boston, Massa
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    In most basketball associations not named the NBA, there is something called a one-and-one. In the NCAA for instance, a non-shooting foul that committed when a team is over the limit (but not in the double-bonus) is classified as a one and one.

    In the NBA, the same violation merits two free-throws. 

    Professional basketball players should not be rewarded for missing free throws. If anything, it should be the lesser-skilled collegiate and high school ranks with the two shot single-bonus. 

    Instituting one and one would benefit the NBA for the following reasons:

    -Pressure: Having to make both free throws would change in game considerably in terms of excitement. The intangible of performing in the face of added adversity makes any sporting event tremendously more appealing, as such a rule change would create an environment where the most clutch players would be on the court in late game situations. 

    -Strategy: The end of the game hacking that usually occurs when a team is trailing would still take place, but it would give trailing teams a better chance of getting back in the game. For instance, when fouling a player like Shaquille O'Neal or Dwight Howard, there is a high probability he will miss the first shot, thus preventing the opportunity to increase the lead with another free throw. 

    -Skill- The importance of free throw shooting would elevate dramatically. It would give an increased focus on the charity stripe, one of the most overlooked aspects of the game today.   

7. Cut The Charge Circle In Half

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    CHICAGO - DECEMBER 02:  Larry Hughes #32 of the Chicago Bulls moves the ball in the key against Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center on December 2, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The NBA is notorious for its lack of defense. Some of the so-called best players in the league, despite stellar offensive numbers, clearly don't believe in protecting their end of the court. (I'm looking at you, Steve Nash)

    Known as the "restricted area, the NBA has a four foot semi circle under the basket. When inside this circle, a defender cannot draw a charge. 

    I'm not saying get rid of the circle completely. With big bodies bruising and bashing each other down low, its important to give defenders a chance.

    However, with an extensive charge circle, there exists the opportunity for a defender to pick up cheap offensive fouls time and time again. Rasheed Wallace was a master at this practice.

    While a balance of offense and defense is important, having such a wide "restricted area" arguably discourages big men from being aggressive on defense in terms of body position, opening up the lane for slashing guards time and time again. For defensive minded coaches, such a limitation could potentially serve as a large inhibitor for effective game schemes.

    Yes, scoring is important. But isn't good old, fashioned defense equally vital?

    If the arc was cut in half, we could possibly have the best of both worlds. 

6. Bring Back The Five-Game First Round Series

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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 20:  The NBA Playoffs logo in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 20, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadi
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    There's no getting around it. The NBA playoffs has more games than Pat Riley has hair gel. 

    Nearly a decade ago, the NBA extended first round playoff series to a best-of-seven format, doing away with the previously utilized best-of-five setup. 

    Reasons why the NBA should make the switch back:

    1. The playoffs are like someone who is trying to lose weight. They need to cut down somewhere.

    2. There are at least one or two first round series' per year that end in a sweep. There is no need to extend the losing team's misery at the expense of injuring one of the winning team's star players. 

    3. It is more exciting. Can you imagine if last season's Lakers vs. Thunder series only lasted five games?

    4. Charles Barkley will have a higher JPG average (Joke Per Game), as he will be forced to condense his humor into five games rather than seven. 

5. Or Limit The Postseason To Six Teams Per Conference

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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 18:  The NBA logo after a game between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 18, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    There's only so many ways you could say it. Three months long, the playoffs are a season in itself. 

    Furthermore, half of the league is awarded a entrance to the postseason. That's like letting half of the state of Georgia into Augusta National. 

    Doing away with the bottom two seeds in each conference would benefit the NBA in primarily two ways. First, as previously stressed to the point of oblivion, it would give the playoffs some much needed lyposuction, trimming away the unwanted fat of the postseason. 

    Secondly, it would give the regular season a whole new meaning. Well, not really. It would however, make the regular season a little bit more important. Due to the limited spots, a playoff appearance would not only be regarded as more prestigious, but games played after the trade deadline would effectuate a more intense atmosphere, amongst higher skilled teams. 

    For this format to work, the NBA would have to adopt an NFL style format, with the top two seeds in each conference getting a bye. This move would also potentially increase competition at the top, as the elite teams would be vying for that oh-so important extra week of rest. 

    Think of it in terms of supply of demand. Lowering supply, or number of seeds, will increase the demand for such spots. Thus, level of gameplay, or price of the product, will rise.  

4. Get Rid Of The Stoudemire/Diaw Rule

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Raja Bell #19, Boris Diaw #3, Steve Nash #13 and Amare Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns warm up before their game against the Sacramento Kings during an NBA game at Arco Arena December 16, 2006 in Sacramento, California.  N
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    From section VII from the NBA rule book:

    c. During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000.

    In 2007, this silly rule, which has drawn comparisons to football's "tuck rule," arguably cost the Phoenix Suns a shot at the franchises' first-ever NBA title. After Steve Nash was hit by Robert Horry with this cheap shot, Diaw and Stoudemire rose from the bench, ready to defend their teammate. 

    They didn't fight anyone. They didn't even threaten anyone. 

    They did however, step over a thin strip of paint. 

    According to the rule, players are not allowed to leave their bench, which ends at the sideline during any sort of tense moment. Thus, Stoudemire and Diaw were suspended the following game. 

    The incident came in the final minutes of game four, a contest that was won by the Suns. After evening up the series, the Suns returned home for Game Five. Without two of their top players however, the Suns were defeated. San Antonio was able to defend their home court, won the series, and won the NBA title. 

3. Halves?

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    Their other halves
    Their other halvesPool/Getty Images

    This rule, unlike the previous ones mentioned, may not actually enhance the NBA, as it would be largely experimental.

    It would however, be very interesting to see how it would fare in the professional environment. 

    College hoops is known for a style of play centered around two 20 minute halves. What if the NBA adopted something similar?

    The halves would have to be 24 minutes apiece. Otherwise timing, statistics, and other rules would be tremendously compromised. It does however, have the potential to drastically improve the game. Consider the following:

    1. NBA games--between timeouts, breaks for each quarter, and end of the game foul fests--are not exactly short. Restructuring time may not create an actual difference in game length, but games would definitely be perceived as shorter due to the fact that there would be two periods rather than four. 

    2. The flow of the game would move in a more uninterrupted manner. The segmentation of quarters creates breaks in the action based around chronological markers, tremendously impacting substitutions, defensive schemes, and other strategical tactics.

    In other words, quarters help kill momentum. By preserving the pace of a game, there is a greater chance for pronounced highs and lows for each side, creating more drama, action, and an easier and morestoryline to follow. 

    ***Tony Parker and Eva Longoria have nothing to do with this slide, but their facial expressions demonstrate that they are clearly intrigued by the prospective rule change. 

2. Change The One and Done Rule

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    SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 25:  (L-R) John Wall #11 and DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats look on against the Cornell Big Red during the east regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 25, 2010 in Sy
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    I don't want to completely bash the rule. Despite a high degree of criticism, the one-and-done rule has prevented players from going the way of Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, or Sebastian Telfair--all once promising young studs whose careers probably would have turned out considerably better had they attended college. 

    The one-and-done rule is not necessarily bad for the NBA, as it does help cultivate a players talent prior to their entrance into the league.

    It is however, absolutely terrible for the collegiate ranks. As proven by John "Bugsy Siegel" Calipari, the collegiate ranks have been infested by a number of players (and in some cases, entire teams), who are virtually using the NCAA as a launching pad to bigger and better things. Not only does this tremendously disrespect the concept of team/legacy building, it also relegates the concept of a student athlete into a running joke. 

    That's all well, but how does this rule hurt the NBA?

    According to the NBA mindset, a year of experience prior to the pros is supposed to help in the maturity department. But once a player who would otherwise jump to the NBA steps on campus, he is immortalized, even as something holier than thou. Such respect and admiration is healthy to a point, but in excess it creates ego's the size of LeBron's new Miami mansion. Is that really the maturity an NBA GM is looking for. 

    It will be interesting to see how this years Kentucky class fairs in the pros, as they are the epitome of this kind of thinking. With John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins as the primary case studies, this season will allow us to observe how being a part of the NBDL Wildcats helps or hinder ones assimilation to a professional team atmosphere. 

    Secondly, this rule should be abolished just in case another LeBron James comes along. The very thought of an NCAA tethered LeBron is simply a joke. 

1. Make The Season Shorter

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27:  (L-R) Ron Artest #37 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers sit on the bench during the season opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on October 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  The Laker
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    We've all heard it; the NBA is a marathon, not a sprint. 

    Reality check: A marathon is 26.2 miles. In one season, NBA players travel...well, a lot more than that. 

    An 82 game season is bad not only because it is excruciatingly long, but is also detrimental to the overall quality of play. Most players, especially aging veterans, must pace themselves for the long haul rather than expending maximum effort game in and game out. 

    Longer seasons also increase player fatigue, making players more susceptible to injury.

    Instead of 82 games, why not limit the season to 67? Fifteen games less would essentially take away an entire month of the season, so fans would still be treated to NBA action for a significant portion of the year.

    Of all numbers, why 67

    Well, there are fifteen teams in each conference. Instead of playing each opposite conference foe, why not only square off once per season?

    Such a setup would somewhat echo the MLB approach to interleague play. With limited games against opposing side, there would be an opportunity for distinct styles of basketball to develop within each conference. Additionally, having only one matchup per season against certain teams (i.e, Lakers Celtics) would create tremendous buzz for those particular nights. 

    Each game would by no means be must-win. But under this new system, the competitive bar would definitely be raised. And with the vertical leaps of some of these players, I have a feeling they'll have no problem matching this elevated degree of intensity.