ESPN reports that the league has adopted several rule changes for the 2011-2012 season. Stu Jackson, vice president of basketball operations, explains that the tweaks, in short, will make for shorter games in terms of real time, and fewer free throws.
One rule in particular is going to have significant impacts if it is officiated to the letter of the new law.
"Rip-through" moves, where an offensive player swings the ball into a defenders outstretched arm and then attempts a shot once he has created contact, will be considered non-shooting fouls if the contact begins before the offensive player starts his shooting motion.via NBA alters emphasis for shooting fouls in 2011-12 - ESPN.
Also, on drives to the basket, a shooting foul will be called only if contact occurs after the offensive player has begun his shooting motion, not after he has initiated his leap toward the basket.
Do you hear it?
It's Kevin Durant. Screaming out. In horror. As his scoring average plummets because that's a huge part of his offense. Durant was one of the league leaders in free throw rate last season and 28 percent of his total points came at the stripe. Many of those came from the rip-through move he perfected. But if Durant is the poster-boy for the rip-through, Kevin Martin and Kobe Bryant are the slightly less-in-focus supporting figures in the background of the poster. This isn't going to be a huge differential in terms of raw numbers. After all, the foul is still called, but just not as a shooting foul. But those free throws that extend leads or keep games close earlier in the game will be affected, as will players' efficiency.
And that's a good thing.
The league needs fewer free throws, and to reward defense. Continuation has been a big problem in officiating and it's good to see the league addressing it. ESPN also reports replay is going to be pulled back in certain ways and substitutions will be limited. The effect should be a shortening of the amount of time games take.