The NBA has announced that it will introduce a new rule in the upcoming NBA summer leagues. If successful, the rule could be implemented next season in the NBA. The NBA anticipates “the rule will be in effect in the NBA next season as a one-year pilot program”.
The rule provides for a new “coach’s challenge” during a game. Coaches will be entitled to one challenge per game. Once used, even if successful, the coach has used their challenge for the entire game. The challenge may be used for called fouls, goal-tending, basket interference and instances where the ball is out of bounds. The challenge cannot be used where referees have missed calls.
To use a challenge, coaches must have a timeout remaining. This means that coaches may start to retain a timeout tactically in particularly important games in order to be able to use their challenge, especially in the dying seconds of a close contest. However, only challenges for personal fouls are permitted in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or the last two minutes of overtime. To use the challenge, the head coach will call a timeout and indicate they are challenging the call. If successful, the team retains their timeout. If not, the timeout is used.
The NBA’s sister league, the G League, has implemented this rule for the past two seasons. In its first season, there were 232 challenges of which 75 original calls were overturned, representing a 32.3% success rate. The following season saw 81 successful challenges from 249 challenges, representing a similar success rate of 32.5%.
The League anticipates that the challenge rule will be rolled out next season on a trial basis and reviewed at the end of the season. For the rule to be implemented, two-thirds of the League’s teams must vote in its favour during a formal vote expected to take place this summer. If the vote goes ahead, it is likely to succeed. Coaches are generally in favour of the rule as it provides another tool for them to use in-game. Coaches gain greater powers of intervention whilst more decisions are ultimately correct due to incorrect calls being overturned. It could also ease tensions between referees and players. Sports Shorts recently addressed the heightening tensions between NBA players and match officials during the Playoffs this season.