NBA G League announces referee experiment and rules changes for 2017-18 season

New four-round playoff format features 12 teams

NEW YORK The NBA G League announced today that four-person officiating crews will be used during the entire 2017 preseason and for all regular-season games in November. The testing follows similar experimentation last season, when nine regular-season games were officiated by either four- or five-person crews.

The league also announced a new four-round, 12-team playoff format. The team with the best regular-season record in each division automatically qualifies for the postseason as one of six “division winners.” The additional six playoff berths will be filled by the three “wild card” teams in each conference with the best regular-season records, other than the division winners.

The conferences will be seeded one through six, with the division winners owning the first, second and third seeds and the wild card teams occupying the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds based on regular-season records. The top two seeds in each conference will earn a bye into the second round. The playoffs will begin with three single-elimination rounds before culminating with a best-of-three NBA G League Finals, which will be played in a one-one-one format.

In addition, the NBA G League announced experimental rules changes aimed to improve game flow for the 2017-18 season:

  • Overtime periods will be two minutes, reduced from three minutes.
  • The Coach’s Challenge has been revised so that teams receive only one challenge per game, to be used at any point during regulation or overtime periods. Only fouls called, goaltending/basket interference and out-of-bounds calls may be challenged.
  • Instant replay triggers have been reduced to the following five circumstances:
    • Flagrant Fouls: Officials have doubt if a called foul meets the criteria for a Flagrant Foul at any point in the game.
    • Two-point/three-point field goal attempts or fouls: Officials are uncertain whether a made basket was correctly scored as a two- or three-pointer or if a fouled player was attempting a two- or three-point shot.
    • Made basket at the end of a period: A field goal is made with no time remaining on the clock (0:00) at the end of any quarter.
    • Foul at the end of a period: A foul is called with no time remaining on the clock (0:00) at the end of any quarter.
    • Altercation: Two or more players are engaged in an altercation.
  • Each team will be allocated seven timeouts per game and all timeouts will be known as “Team Timeouts,” with no distinction between full and 30-second timeouts. The following timeout structure will be implemented:
    • All non-mandatory Team Timeouts will be 30 seconds.
    • Each period will have two 90-second mandatory Team Timeouts, occurring after the first stoppage under the seven- and three-minute marks.
    • Each team may enter the fourth quarter with up to four Team Timeouts.
    • Each team will be limited to a maximum two Team Timeouts after the later of the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter or the resumption of play following the second mandatory timeout of that quarter.
    • In overtime, each team will be allotted two Team Timeouts.

The NBA G League will continue to play with rules changes already in effect:

  • Shot Clock: The 24-second clock resets to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound.
  • Reset Timeout: Teams can call a timeout to advance the ball and make substitutions but not huddle in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and during entire overtime periods.
  • Fouls: If an away-from-the-play foul is committed at any point in the game, personal and team fouls are assessed and one free throw attempt is awarded.

Two prior experimental rules will be discontinued and standard NBA rules will be resumed in both instances. In the first change, technical fouls for flopping infractions will no longer be assessed in-game, and a postgame warning-and-fine policy similar to that of the NBA’s will be implemented. In addition, the team penalty foul limit will be reduced from six to five fouls in a quarter before a penalty.

The 2017-18 NBA G League season tips off on Nov. 3 with an all-time-high 26 teams competing in a 50-game regular season.