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If a Blogger Were the Commissioner

You may or may not be aware that Clips Nation is part of a larger community of Sports Blogs called SB Nation.  The NBA contingent of blogs is relatively small but includes several of the crown jewels of the basketball blogosphere - I'm a little shocked that Clips Nation is in any way associated with established and successful blogs like Blog-a-Bull, Golden State of Mind, Blazer's Edge, Pounding the Rock and Sactown Royalty.  The primary goal of course is to build communities around individual teams, but hopefully there are some synergies to be had from the group as well.  When the newest blog joined last week (Welcome Tom from Indy Cornrows) I decided it was time to work on a group project.  

Certainly all bloggers have delusions of grandeur, so I wondered what these guys would do if they were the most powerful person on the planet.  Yes, the Commissioner of the NBA.  The answers ranged from facetious, to serious, to scatological.  

What's perhaps most interesting is that knowledgeable, passionate basketball people can disagree (sometimes diametrically) about what should be changed.  Eliminate three seconds or call more three seconds?  Even so, it seems to me the answers mostly fall into a couple of categories.  

  • Consistency - even with the difference of opinion about the three second call, a lot of the frustration stems from the way it is enforced.  If you've ever watched NBA basketball with a TiVo remote in your hand (and you are borderline OCD), you know that three seconds is sometimes called at 2.5 seconds, and usually not called until about 4.5 seconds.  Call it or not, but be consistent.  It's also telling that more than one person proposed not a rule change, but consistent enforcement of existing rules.

  • Flow - Eliminating the three second call, calling fewer charges (especially off the ball), etc. all would create a quicker, more entertaining, more free-flowing game.

Question: If you were Commissioner of the NBA, what rules changes would you make immediately?

Dan - Bright Side of the Sun

Hmmm...I'm thinking "Anytime Raja Bell flops, it is an automatic foul on the opposing player and the Suns get 2 free throws plus the ball."  That should allow for an extra 5-6 possessions and 10-12 free throws per game!

Ok, in all seriousness:

Hey Dan, is this a palming violation?
                                           © Henry Chen, all rights reserved
I wouldn't make any rules changes right now except to enforce the rules that are already in the books.  (Note:  These would benefit the Suns more than other teams but I am a Suns fan!)  The two I specifically would like to see enforced:
  1.  3-second Call - The referees seem to call a lot of defensive 3-second infractions but not a lot on the offensive end.  The Suns depend on a defense that is spread out as much as possible.  When the opposing center is allowed to camp in the lane, it really hinders the movement of the ball.
  2.  Palming Violation - Leandro Barbosa seems to get called for this a lot but a lot of the new stars seem to do this A LOT!  It gives them a distinct advantage over the defenders when they can literally stop the ball in mid-air while it is resting on their dribbling hand and then crossover or head fake as they move to the basket.  There are many stars that would be hindered if the referees actually called the palming violation the way it should be.
Matthew Powell Pounding the Rock

Do away with defensive three seconds and make every defense legal.  You want to double team Kobe even when he doesn't have the ball?  Go for it.  You want to run a 2-3 where no defender even leaves the lane?  Knock yourself out.  Box and 1?  Triangle and 2?  Take 'em for a spin.  There's nothing more annoying than watching an offensive player standing 25 feet from the basket, pointing at his defender and screaming to the ref that defensive 3 seconds should be called.

There are too many stupid fucking rules about where players can be and where they can't.  Fuck that.

It's basketball, not chess.  It's movement and flow, not choreography.  It's Hendrix, not Haydn.  It's Yo Mama, not Yo Yo Ma.

Do away with offensive three seconds, too.  A man's got a right to stand where he wants.  Fuck the eight second rule.  And backcourt violations.  (Seriously, who cares if the offensive team crosses back over the half court line?)  Widen the court by four feet (two on each side), make the three point line a true arc (lengthening the corner threes) and drop the 24 second clock to 22 seconds.  And make it nearly impossible for a help-defender to draw a charge.

Basically, make whatever changes necessary to ensure that I never, ever, EVER have to see Matt Bonner, Reggie Evans, Eduardo Najera, Fabricio Oberto, Linas Kleiza and the calcified remains of Robert Horry on the same basketball court at the same time.  While James White, a guy who can, for all intents and purposes, fly, sits on the bench in street clothes.  How absurd is that?  Even Franz
fucking Kafka would have been like "Yo, dude, that's crazy, for real, yo."

TZ Sactown Royalty

Could we make these Unis illegal?
© Henry Chen, all rights reserved
  1. I kill the clear path foul rule. Just give them free throws, not free throws AND possession.
  2. Brian Scalabrine must wear his warmups at all times, even on the court.
  3. I raise the salary cap to $75 million, set the luxury tax to $90 million, and double the luxury tax, making every dollar over $90 million cost the offending team $4. This money does not feed directly into revenue sharing. It pays for a full papal costume for David Stern, complete with the Pope-mobile.
Matt Blog-a-Bull

If I were commish my first rule likely couldn't happen, which is widen the court. That of course would knock out dozens of the most pricey seats, so already the owners stage a coup and I'm toast.

failing that...

My one governing philosophy in terms of the style of play would be to try and take as much control from the coaches. They slow down and ruin the flow of the game, for the most part:

First order of business would be to take away their pet players: the dudes who just flop as secondary defenders. If you're the primary defender, you have a right to stand your ground and can draw charges. But no more stiffs just sliding into the lane and undercutting actual athletes without making a play for the ball. You have to try and make a play at the ball, or it's a blocking foul. If the ref subjectively deems you to be 'flopping', it's a technical foul. Review constant floppers and fine them after the fact.

(yes I realize that coming down on these tactics destroys the Bulls 'team identity'. But really it only hurts their bad players, which I'm cool with)

I happen to like the fact that the cap and tax are calculated as a function of league revenues, personally. If everybody's over the cap that just means GMs are careless.

Dave Blazers Edge

This isn't so much a rule change as a matter of enforcement.  The league needs to decide how, where, and when it's going to call illegal screens and make that consistent across the board.  Right now sometimes they'll call only the second illegal screen a guy sets in the same possession, sometimes they'll call it right away, sometimes not at all.  Worse, they seem to let some teams or players set them any way they want while others get whistled if they so much as blink.  It may be the most abused rule in the league currently.

PradaMaster Bullets Forever

Most of the things I'd change have to do with late-game situations. There are too many game stoppages at the end of games, and while I realize some of them are a function of the game itself, the NBA could do more to prevent them from happening.

The Wave should definitely be outlawed
Davis does the wave
                                           © Henry Chen, all rights reserved
First off, if you call a timeout with under 2 minutes remaining, you shouldn't get the ball at half court.  It just doesn't make any sense to me.  If you have the ball underneath your own basket, you should have to advance it to halfcourt yourselves instead of being able to do it through a timeout.  I also think this will have a dual effect of limiting timeouts at the end of games.  There's less of an incentive to call timeout when it means the ball will still remain underneath your own basket.

The other thing I'd do is restructure fouls.  Instead of having automatic two-shot fouls after a team commits 5 fouls in a quarter, I'd do it slightly differently.  Once a team commits 5 fouls, it would be a one-and-one situation, where the player only gets a second free throw if he makes the first.  Once a team gets 8 fouls, then it would be a two-shot situation.  Once a team gets 12 fouls, however, then you should get one shot and the ball back.  None of this applies to shooting fouls by the way, except that they add to the aggregate total.  If you commit a shooting foul and you?ve already committed 12 team fouls, for example, then it would be a two shot foul.  But if you commit a shooting foul when you have 11 team fouls, and then commit a non-shooting foul on the next possession, it would be one shot and the ball.

Hopefully, this will speed up games without limiting the number of timeouts.

I personally like the defensive three-second call, because otherwise, who's to say Dikembe Mutumbo or Yao Ming can't stand right in front of the basket and block shots?  It's up to the players to understand the rule better.

Tom from Indy Cornrows

Tonight I'm thinking referees and rules all need to be abolished. In fact, law enforcement agencies of any kind in a NBA city should be wiped out too. Road Warriors forcing the players to regulate themselves. If this happens, can the Pacers get Stephen Jackson back? (mvp...mvp...mvp...).

If we have to keep the refs, I could handle getting rid of the rule that allows a team to move the ball to midcourt by calling a time out late in the game. I understand how it provides an opportunity for an exciting finish, but there's two teams playing and assuming Team A scores to go up by one, they can still play solid D and get burned by a chuck and a prayer.

Man, I've been watching Carlisle teams too long.

Fantasy Junkie from Golden State of Mind

If I were commissioner I'd change the rule that doesn't allow the Warriors in the playoffs. I mean c'mon it's been 12 years, give us fans a break. What I would also do is just allow 15 teams per conference into the playoffs. Barring any expansion, that would guarantee the Warriors as perennial playoff participants. Lastly, as commissioner of the league I would get rid of the awful pass and crash rule. I love watching guys play great D and take a charge, but people getting rewarded for stepping in the way of someone they're not even guarding is not in the spirit of the game. It basically is the same thing as undercutting someone who is in a vulnerable state. Offensive player cannot just barrel down the lane uninhibited, but defensive players need to play defense and cutting in front of someone at the last second cannot be classified as defense. There have been injuries because of this rule and sooner or later, if the rule isn't changed, a very serious injury will happen.

ClipperSteve Clips Nation

The easy, no-brainer immediate change would be to eliminate the defensive 3 second rule.  While I don't actually disagree with its goal it is simply impossible to enforce consistently without calling a bunch of violations for what happens to be plain old fashioned good defense.

The Defensive 3 Second T - feel the excitement!
                                           © Henry Chen, all rights reserved
For instance, if my team is playing straight up man-to-man, and my man is standing in the weak side corner, and he's not a threat to score from there, where should I be?  Where would my high school coach want me to be?  I'd be in the lane!  I'm not playing a zone, I'm in proper help position.  If you notice, the vast majority of defensive 3 second calls have nothing to do with big slow centers guarding the rim (the thing the rule was designed to stop) - they are called against help defenders in exactly the place they should be from a defensive perspective.  By the way, it's also maddening watching these guys dance out of the lane every few seconds like they're doing the hokey-pokey trying to avoid the call.  Just let them play defense and see what happens.  Would someone try to play a straight up packed in 2-3 zone?  Maybe.  But it wouldn't work, because you'd get killed by the three.  (OK, it would work against the Clippers, but it wouldn't work against any other team.)   Let teams play whatever defense they want, and get rid of the two or three stoppages every game that have nothing to do with basketball (indeed, stoppages that are penalizing good defense).

I agree whole heartedly with others who are asking that rules be enforced consistently.  It's funny - I doubt that even Miami Heat fans actually WANT Dwyane Wade to get every call (I could be wrong on that).  Start with traveling, and recognize that Wade's spin move is physically impossible without traveling.  And the discontinued dribble (aka palming) is another one.  (Dan, if you think Barbosa is called a lot, it's because he does it a lot.  I agree that others should be called as well.)  And the rule of verticality.  If a defender jumps straight up (or even reasonably straight up) to contest a shot, don't call a defensive foul on contact that is created by the offensive player.  It's a no call or an offensive foul, but not a defensive foul.  These are all rules that exist already but are rarely or even incorrectly enforced.

The toughest thing to fix is the charge/block, but I think it can be done, and I think it can be relatively straightforward.  

  • Call an offensive foul if the player with the ball initiates contact into the chest of a defender in position.  After a pass off - no call.  Glancing contact - no call.
  • Call a defensive foul if there is contact and the defender is moving laterally or into the offensive player.

No more drawing charges from guys running down the court without the ball or setting screens.  That's not basketball.  That's crap.  

So there you have it.  The collected knowledge of SBNation basketball bloggers.  Feel the power.  

By the way, you really should check out all of these blogs, at the very least when the Clippers are playing these teams.  These are some of the best basketball blogs around, each with its own style.