The NBA Has a Brand New Set of Rules—Thoughts?

Grant Button

As the NBA grows and basketball changes, it is important for NBA officials and referees to tweak the rules so the game is not only fair but also fun to watch.

The NBA has changed into a fast-paced three-point shootout where many players abuse the rules to draw fouls and head to the line. In the 2020-21 season, the average NBA team attempted 36.3 three-pointers per game. In the 2005-06 season, the average team only attempted 16 three-pointers per game. This gap shows an undeniable change in gameplay.  Not only are there significantly more attempted threes, but the area in which players will shoot from has moved back 5-10 feet behind the line. When paired against elite shooters, defenders have two options: run out and contest the shots (which more often than not will result in a foul) or let the shot go and accept the points. Before the recent rule changes, shooters could get their defender off-balance, pump fake a shot as the defender scrambles to contest it, and lean into the defender to draw a foul and shoot free throws. Players heavily abused this loophole which not only led to the game slowing down but also created a playground for elite shooters to easily draw fouls. Fortunately, the NBA saw this flaw and decided to create a new rule to limit these unfair fouls. I think this change is great for the game’s viewing experience and the ability for defenders to actually be able to fairly defend against elite offensive talent. Hugh, my good friend and basketball guru, agrees, “I think it was an issue that definitely needed to be resolved. I mean, players were literally jumping into the defender, and the innocent defender would be charged with the foul—it just made no sense. If anything, it’s an offensive foul. I’m glad the league is taking notice (finally!) of this inexcusable flawed rule.”

Another interesting thing the NBA decided to keep (not fully a new rule, but they are still keeping it in the game) is the play-in tournament. Instead of only 8 teams per conference making the playoffs, the top 10 teams have the opportunity to make the playoffs. This selection puts a high value on being in one of the top 6 seeds in your conference so you avoid the play-in and have longer to rest. The play-in was introduced in the 2019-20 season during the peak of Covid where NBA players played in the “Bubble” in Orlando. Because the NBA season was cut short, it seemed unfair to many teams that their team might not have made it into the playoffs because of the shortened season. Instead of the normal 16 teams, the NBA decided to send 22 teams to the Bubble to compete for a championship. This model was popular amongst the players and fans, so the NBA decided to renew it with a few tweaks in the 2020-21 season. Again, the response was good and this year they are doing it again. I really like that this is the case because it is very exciting for NBA fans. I think it is more equitable to mid-tier teams who were previously borderline playoff teams but will now make it because of this expansion. Hugh agrees but especially emphasized “there is a moment for lower-seed teams to make themselves known and play meaningful games in the play-in in between the regular season and the postseason. It also allows for the hard-earned top seeds to get some rest and prepare for the playoffs.”

Overall, I think the new rules added by the NBA will create a more fair game with happier fans and players. What do YOU think of the new NBA rule changes? Please vote in the poll below!! 

What do you think about the play-in?

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What do you think about the new rules?

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​​NBA League Averages – Per Game., Accessed 24 October 2021.

Association, Nation Basketball., Accessed 24 October 2021.

“Hawks’ Young ejected after staring down Dunn.” Accessed 24 October 2021.

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