How to make the NBA better

I love the NBA.

The reason I love it so much is that its one of the most forward-looking leagues in the world. Unlike other leagues that shan’t be named (*cough* *cough* MLB) they’ve always looked for new ways to better and modernise the game.

Some of those endeavours have been a resounding success like the 3-point line. Others like the shorter 3- point line, not so much.

So to keep up with this tradition of innovation, I am going to suggest a few things that in my humble opinion would make the NBA game a superior product.

Shooting fouls=1 Shot: 

Rule: Reduce all free throw attempt for one shot worth all the potential points

This piece of brilliance comes courtesy of Ethan Sherwood Strauss.

So Ethan’s rule, as it shall be known as, would make all shooting fouls be settled with one shot as opposed to the usual 2 or 3 depending on where the shooting fouled occurred.

The first benefit of this rule would be that it reduces the length of the game.

An NBA game as currently constructed is way way way to long. One of the reasons behind this is because of all the time we waste at the free throw line. So by instituting Ethan’s rule, we would be saving 5 to 10 minutes each game and even more if the “hack a” strategy is being employed.

Changing the number of free throws also adds some drama to the mix.

Even though the expected value per each trip to the free throw line would not change, reducing the amount of free throws will add some volatility to the mix.

For instance, let’s imagine the following scenario:

Rockets are down 2 with 5 seconds left, James Harden drives misses a layup, Dwight picks up the offensive rebound and immediately gets fouled.

The probability under the old rules that Dwight Howard gets 2 points is just a measly 25% (0.5*0.5=0.25).

But, under the new rules, it would bump up to 50%.

How so?

Because he does not have to make a free throw on two different occasions, he just has to make one, so the odds of him getting the 2 points have vastly increased.

On the other hand the odds of him getting no points have also gone up as well (so, in the long run, they balance each other out), but in this particular scenario it does not matter.

Obviously, before this rule is implemented it would be worth looking at the different free throws splits, to see if each free throw is an independent event on average or if there is some substantial correlation.

But a downside to this is that we won’t be seeing this anymore:

No more college basketball: 

Rule: Top prospects have the right to forgo the farce that is college basketball, spend a year in the D-League before being drafted

I know this sounds like heresy, but please read until the end. 

Even though players can already do this, they don’t because the incentive structure is terrible.

As currently constructed players can go straight to the D-League from high school but they are paid the average D-League salary, which is around $20,000-$25,000 per year.

Clearly that isn’t enough money to entice people to go straight to the NBA.

So the way I would do it is that the top prospects in the nation, basically all the one and done guys are evaluated by independent NBA scouts to determine their NBA potential. I would do this just to make sure everyone who would come to the D-League will eventually be an NBA player.

So once they go pro the NBA can either pay each player a million dollars for instance, which is very moderate compared to NBA standards. The year after they are drafted the team that drafts them will recompense them.


The NBA can help facilitate short-term apparel endorsements deals or endorsements period to help bolster their salary. Nike, Adidas and Under Armour would naturally love to get ahead of the curve with the next generation of NBA superstars.

Now let’s talk about why this is a good idea.

Have any of you guys ever wondered why every European player who comes to the NBA from day 1 are moderately good at passing, dribbling, shooting, know their defensive and offensive schemes?

It’s because since they’ve been kids these guys have been pros.

The way it works in Europe is that you get signed as a kid for Barcelona for instance. You slowly go through their age progression system, with the goal of said system is to produce the best professional player possible.

Not to win this pointless AAU game and not to make the coach look good.

So unlike what happens in AAU and college basketball, these players are forced to learn proper basketball fundamentals and not have to rely on their athleticism.

It’s always baffling to me how players come into the NBA without at least a decent jump shot form.

Just look at Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

If he grew up in Europe or in an academy system, his shooting flaws would have been fixed during his formative years, and he wouldn’t be figuring out how to shoot the ball when he is 22.

Now let’s take it back to the D-League.

If Ben Simmons, for instance, was in the D-League today, he’d be coached by professional staff and would be forced to address the flaws in his game now as opposed to next year.

He would learn all the things that rookies struggle with their first year like the rookie wall, professional defence schemes and being famous.

Regarding a pure basketball perspective, the players would be much better-served go pro earlier than going to college.

This would also help the teams because rookies tend to be under average NBA players. So making sure they get to the NBA as better players will make them better investments for teams.

It would also help raise the profile of the D-League itself and garner interest by the casual fan. We no longer have to watch horrid college basketball with its medieval rules. But more importantly, we are no longer reliant on the terrible NCAA and all their BS.

Can NBA games please start on time?:

Rule: Make NBA games start on their official league pass time

I think it’s worth mentioning my personal bias on the matter.

I don’t live in the USA, so watching NBA games can be very tricky for me.

Nothing is worse than staying up till 2:30 in the morning, only to have to wait another 15 minutes for no apparent reason.

If the NBA wants to continue growing internationally, it has to make its product as accessible as possible, which means making sure the game starts at a reasonable time.

At the end of the day, the NBA is an American league, and that will always be its prime audience. But with that being said, I am not telling the NBA to alter all of its start times, but at the very least they should make sure that their current start times are respected.

It’s also not that hard, every other league in the world starts their games on time to the second.

So I don’t see why the NBA can’t as well.

Are they trying to make it easier to watch in China?

I don’t know.

Maybe there is a reason that I am not smart enough to figure it out.

Reducing timeouts:

Rule: Reducing timeouts to 4 (60 seconds duration) and instituting 3 advances of the ball in the last two minutes

The NBA like any other reasonable firm is out to profit maximise. Meaning that they will do anything to make more money.

Unfortunately, that sometimes comes at the expense of the actual game we are watching.

At the end of the day, I am a realist so I am acutely aware that you can’t just take away revenue without replacing it.

So I would make up the lost time out money by putting some ads on jerseys.

Although this is semi-blasphemous in American sports culture, it makes way to much sense for it to be flat out dismissed.

So to help people get acclimatized to this heretical concept, I would put ads on the warm-up kits and then eventually introduce them on the jerseys. They don’t have to be massive like the soccer ones, but somewhere in between the NFL, and that should do the trick.

I am completely aware of the fact that no one (including myself) like ads on anything. We want everything to remain as pure possible, untouched by the consumer society.

To be honest, the only reason this hasn’t happened yet is because the inertia is too great. But here is the thing with jersey ads, at the end of the day you just learn you get used to it and learn to ignore it.

Back to the timeouts.

In the playoffs, each of basketball game lasts about 3 hours, and that’s way too much time for nothing.

Reducing the amount of timeouts to 4 and their duration to 60 seconds would save us an incredible amount of time.

Even though a timeout is supposed to be 100 seconds, for example, it never is. So we would be shaving a cool 15 minutes off the game, and that addss so much to the fan satisfaction.

In addition, to this, we can finally reduce the time taken to play the last minute of an NBA game. Think about how anti-climactic it is for the average viewer to watch a coach take a timeout, draw out a play; the team executes the play, the other coach calls a time out so on and so forth.

Why not just remove timeouts all together and just give a coach an advance of the ball in the last two minutes?

In these advance of ball, he can make subs and take the ball to the other side of the court. It’s not like the play he is going to draw up is going to be the first time his players have seen it.

So why are we going through this dull charade?

The end of a basketball game should be exciting, and I shouldn’t have to watch the same State Farm twice in the span of a minute.

It’s also worth noting that every time I watch an NBA game with my non-NBA fan friends they get so bored because the game keeps stopping for no reason and that’s annoying for everyone involved.

Over time fouls: 

Rule: For every period of overtime give an extra foul to each player

This one comes courtesy of Jeff Van Gundy.

All we have to do is think back a few weeks to that fantastic OKC-Warriors game where Kevin Durant fouled out in the first minute of overtime.

Because of the overtime why not just give each player an extra foul?

Did any objective observer want Kevin Durant to foul out just because the game is longer?

Obviously not.

Imagine this happened in game 7?

Just change the rule.


Hope you guys learned a thing or two

Shami out

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