This week, the NBA Board of Governors met to discuss a few issues, and a couple of changes were made to league rules.
One decision that was made was to make the play-in tournament, which was first instituted in 2020 due to the season being suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a permanent fixture of the NBA season.
The play-in tournament has its supporters and its detractors, but it has likely meant a little added revenue for the league, and in this society, money talks.
But another change that was made is one that is likely less controversial.
The league decided to institute a penalty for the so-called take foul in transition, which occurs when a member of the defensive team fouls an opponent without making a play on the ball in order to stop a developing fast break.
Such fouls have occurred with increased frequency, particularly this past season.
The NBA Board of Governors has approved a new "transition take foul" rule for the 2022-23 season.
The rule will give the offensive team a single FT and possession when a take foul is committed. pic.twitter.com/NOJbsoxze0
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 13, 2022
This is a great rule change, and it is one that should make NBA games a little more entertaining and fast-paced than they’ve already been in recent years.
The Fast Break Is The Essence Of NBA Ball
Defense and rebounding may win games and championships, but exciting offense not only puts butts in seats and attracts viewers, but it also finishes the job of winning games once a team has gotten the job done defensively.
The easiest way to score in basketball is in transition, whether it’s on a true fast break or simply in early offense before the opponent has gotten fully set defensively.
Transition play has always been the thing that tends to put the sizzle in the NBA steak.
Once upon a time, in the 1990s and early 2000s, the dominant offensive philosophy in the league was to walk the ball upcourt and play as slowly as possible.
As a result, ratings suffered, especially after Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls following the 1998 season, and the NBA struggled to find itself afterward.
But a series of rule changes, as well as pioneering teams such as the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns that employed a run-and-shoot style, gradually changed the ideology of NBA offense.
For the past few years, coaching philosophies on the offensive end have been about playing with pace and pushing the ball whenever possible, as opposed to slowing it down and controlling the tempo back in the day.
As a result, the league has been in a new golden age for the past dozen years or so, whether observers want to admit it or not.
But the take foul has threatened to put the brakes on offenses and turn Showtime into slowtime.
The Pace May Increase
According to basketball-reference.com, the league-wide pace this past season (defined as the number of possessions per 48 minutes) was 98.2.
That was down from 99.2 in 2021 and 100.3 in 2020.
Could a reason for the dip in pace be more take fouls in the past year or two?
If so, expect more fast-breaks and transition play in general, as teams will be more reluctant to commit take fouls, knowing it will give the other squad one free throw (which can be taken by anyone on the offensive team) plus possession of the ball afterward.
If you take a transition foul.
Offensive team awarded one FT that can be attempted by any player on court for offensive team.
Offensive team retains possession.
Defensive player who commits foul will be assessed common personal foul.
Also play-in here to stay. pic.twitter.com/nsbpyQZfSi
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) July 13, 2022
A faster-paced game across the league will be a great thing, as it will make a great product even greater by virtue of more end-to-end action.
Cheers to the NBA for yet another rule change that is intended to make the game faster-paced and more fluid.