During the NBA offseason, things can get kind of dull.
That's why SB Nation introduced theme weeks last year. Every couple weeks, all of SB Nation's (willing) basketball sites will take part in these theme weeks. And it's not just us, the writers. We want you guys to chime in on theme weeks too. Set up shop in the comment section or tweet your life away. We want you to be part of the discussion.
This week, I was asked what I would do if I was Commissioner of the NBA, and I love it. We all secretly believe we're better general managers and commissioners than the people who've been working in this industry for decades. Still, feeling powerful is fun and I'm going to take advantage of this stage.
Most who know me well -- I'm looking at you, Ben -- know that I'm filled with terrible half-baked basketball ideas. I'll try to be reasonable, but I can't promise it.
Basketball is a forever-changing sport. If you look at the original 13 rules James Naismith penned in 1891, you'll notice they're very outdated, despite being the foundation for today's rules. Naismith didn't envision seven-foot athletic freaks playing his children's game for millions of dollars.
To a lesser degree, today's NBA rules are also outdated. The game has spread throughout the world and in turn, new skills, schemes, and philosophies have popped up. People often forget that just 30 years ago, international players and coaches were fairly rare in the NBA. Last season, there were a total of 84 international players on opening-night rosters. That's roughly a fifth of all NBA players.
And unfortunately, NBA rules haven't changed to accomodate a changing game. Don't get me wrong, the NBA has explored some of the changes I'm going to suggest. But I'm not exploring these. I'm laying down the law.
Basket interference and goaltending
Can you imagine what would happen if Javale McGee's boneheaded plays were not just allowed, but beneficial to his team?
The current system rewards shooters, giving them lucky, unadultered bounces to increase their chances of making a basket. Unfortunately, this same system punishes hustle players.
Think of how many times you've seen McGee sprint from the 3-point line to the basket when a shot goes up (good), muscle through the paint and establish great position for a tip-in or rebound (good), but then watch the ball bounce around because he's not allowed to touch it? And when he (stupidly) does touch the ball, play is stopped and he's punished.
The NBA's current goaltending rules slow down the game. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I enjoy up-tempo, sloppy basketball. I'd rather see four guys fighting for the ball under the rim than four guys waiting for the ball to do something. By stopping play, violations let opposing defenses set up in the halfcourt when the ball changes possession. Snooze.
Faster play, more points and more highlights. That's what FIBA's goaltending rules would do for the NBA. The NBA has tested FIBA's goaltending rules in the D-League. It's just a matter of time until it's part of the NBA, too.
Get rid of the restricted area and three-in-the-key
I know a charge when I see one on television.
Look, I get that the restricted area is there to protect offensive players from landing on defensive players and the three-second rule prevents defenses from loading up near the rim.
But here's the thing. The game has changed dramatically since these rules were implemented. While the game was won with layups and free throws in the 1930s (when the three-second rule was introduced), today, games are won with a medley of 3-pointers, free throws, and layups. The corner 3-point shot is the most efficient shot in the game, and teams like the Spurs and Rockets have begun to exploit this.
The three-second rule was introduced to limit the effectiveness of zone defense, which few teams play with regularity. The restricted area was introduced to reduce under-the-basket collisions. If the NBA really wants to prevent players from getting hurt, I suggest moving cameramen and fans back about ten feet.
These two rules slow down the game and definitely have a purpose, but in my opinion the benefits of kicking them to the curb outweigh the benefits of keeping them around. The game has evolved.
Call less fouls
Contact is a pretty big part of basketball. With only one goal (score) in such a small space, that's no surprise. Players will bump into each other, and chances are they'll hit each other a bit too.
When I see Avery Bradley play smothering defense and get called for a foul, however, I have a problem. So what if he bumped his man when he cut him off? He beat him to his spot and hustled his ass off to do so. Why should players be punished for incidental contact? It's not like Bradley's out there flailing his arms and whacking his man across the face. He's bodying up and preventing an offensive player from doing what he wants to do.
And this isn't just about defense. When I see an offensive player push off a bit to create space, I don't complain. Basketball is a lot like chess. Every move is a counter to the one prior.
I'm not suggesting that the NBA turn into a bloodsport. Fouls should be called when fouls are committed. But come on. I've had enough of Roy Hibbert standing under the rim with his arms straight up being called for a foul because an offensive player began his shot in Hibbert's space.
And for the love of all things, let's get rid of double technicals. And heck, let's chill out on technicals altogether while we're at it.
The league needs help, so they shouldn't listen to me.
The draft and the D-League
I'm gonna take a lot of heat for this, but hear me out. The NCAA is broken. The ever-popular one-and-done system is a joke. I want to draft kids that have just finished high school.
Let me finish! Rather than sending kids through a single year of "college", why don't we send them straight to the D-League for a couple of years? The D-League, which is short for DEVELOPMENT League, provides teams with a way to develop young players. For whatever reason, it's underutilized.
I propose that NBA teams are allowed to draft kids straight out of high school on the following conditions:
- The draftee must spend a minimum of two years in the D-League or overseas
- The draftee must pass a test similar to a GED test
- The draftee must be part of all camps the team runs in the offseason
Shorten the season
Players ask for this every lockout, and they've yet to receive it. I mean, I understand the owners' and league's perspectives. It rhymes with funny.
The NBA season is unbelievably taxing on the human body. Players are subjected to 82 games, a couple hundred practices, dozens of plane trips and long drives, and their own workout routine. As someone who (sometimes) works out, I can't imagine doing even half of that. These guys are the best at what they do, but they're not superhuman. They break down just like everyone else.
By shortening the season, money will be lost. There's no way around that. On the flip side, a shorter season means happier, healthier players, which in turn means a better product on the floor. Every game would mean a bit more, too.
This is pretty much a no-brainer to everyone except the owners. Oh well.
What do you guys think should change? Am I insane? Are you crazier than I am? Let us know what your ideas are in the comments and by using the hashtag #Commish4aDay on Twitter!