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Devoting Time to Rule Changes

On just the second day of practice during a week of U.S. Cellular Training Camp where the Thunder is grinding out two-a-day sessions, Head Coach Billy Donovan and his staff thought it important enough to bring in NBA referees to run through some crucial rule changes that will be emphasized in the 2018-19 campaign.

Below are the three rule changes and one point of emphasis, per the NBA, and Donovan’s reaction to each one.

  • Shot Clock Reset – The shot clock will reset to 14 seconds in three scenarios: after an offensive rebound of a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim; after a loose ball foul is called on the defensive team immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim; or after the offensive team gets possession of the ball after it goes out of bounds immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim. The rule has been in effect in the NBA G League since the 2016-17 season, in the WNBA since 2016 and in FIBA play since 2014-15.  The rule was also in place during 2018 NBA Summer Leagues.
    • “If Steven or whoever it is doesn’t score immediately on a put back and the ball comes back out, it’s going to be very difficult to reset the offense,” Donovan noted. “We’ve got to be able to continue attacking right away, and randomly probably. I can see offensive rebounding (where) the big gets it, he dribbles it out, tries to throw it out to the guard, next thing you know you’re down to eight seconds and trying to get into offense. Now you’re up against the clock. You’ve gotta be able to attack pretty quickly.”
  • Simplification of the Clear Path Foul Rule – A clear path foul is now defined as a personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity in the following circumstances: the ball is ahead of the tip of the circle in the backcourt; no defender is ahead of the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity; the player with the transition scoring opportunity is in control of the ball (or a pass has been thrown to him); and if the foul deprives his team of an opportunity to score. As part of the clear path foul rule simplification, referees will no longer need to make judgment calls as to whether or not a defender was between (or had the opportunity to be between) the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity and the basket.  In addition, referees will no longer have to determine whether or not the defender was at any time ahead of the offensive player prior to committing the foul, nor will it be relevant whether or not a defender beat the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity into the frontcourt.  Further, plays of this nature will no longer have to originate in the backcourt (since transition scoring opportunities can originate in the frontcourt). Under the simplified rule, a clear path foul cannot occur if the fouled player is in the act of shooting or if the foul is caused by the defender’s attempt to intercept or deflect a pass intended for the player attempting to score in transition. If a clear path foul is committed, the offended team will continue to be awarded two free throws and possession of the ball on the sideline nearest the spot where the foul occurred.
    • “They’re trying to do things to reward - the game is being played a lot faster,” Donovan said. “One thing about our game which I think is great is because of the speed and the pace at which it’s being played, the players and the greatness of these guys at this level, is the openness. I think they want to continue to make that part of the game with the way the game is evolving into that.”
  • Expanded Definition of “Hostile Act” for Replay Purposes – For purposes of triggering instant replay review, the definition of a “hostile act” has been broadened to enable referees to determine the appropriate penalty for players or coaches if they are involved in hostile encounters with each other, referees or fans. 
  • Point of Emphasis on Holding – While not a formal rule change, NBA referees will be focused on holding, pushing and grabbing that goes on off the ball from the very outset of the 2018-19 season. This includes both offensive and defensive players.
    • “The two-handed grabbing, the holding, there’s going to be an emphasis on allowing guys to move. They were pretty clear on that,” Donovan said. “We’ve always been a physical team, we try to be a physical team inside the rules without fouling – but you’re going to have to have an awareness of what you’re doing with your hands."

Watch: Donovan on Rule Changes