A Closer Look at the NBA’s New Rule Changes

The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved two rule changes for instant replay, including a Coach’s Challenge that will be adopted on a one-year trial basis starting with the 2019-20 season.

The Coach’s Challenge allows the team one opportunity to review a decision per game. Even if the challenge is successful, the team still only gets one challenge. Basically, coaches better get it right because they’ll only have one moment to challenge in each game.

Teams can challenge personal foul calls, possession on out-of-bounds plays and goaltending/basket interference calls with the challenge, per the NBA’s release. A team can challenge a personal foul call at any time, but can’t challenge the latter two instances in the final two minutes of the game.

Here’s where the rule gets interesting: A team must use a timeout to be able to initiate the challenge. If the team does not have a timeout, it is assessed a technical foul and no challenge takes place. This means coaches will have to strategically have timeouts available at the end of the game in the event they’d need to use the challenge.

If a team calls a timeout to challenge a situation falling outside the above instances, the challenge won’t be completed, but the team will still lose its timeout. This will also lead to scrutiny as coaches may attempt to challenge something that isn’t reviewable, costing the team a timeout. However, the team will still retain its challenge.

The Coach’s Challenge provides another potential interruption to the game, but unlike other replay situations, the team is already calling a timeout to utilize the review. There is no “free timeout” as there typically is during a normal replay situation. Depending on the number of challenges, this could become a staple of the NBA in the near future.

The second rule change allows the replay center to trigger an automatic review on whether a shot was a 2-pointer or 3-pointer and whether a shot clock violation occurred any time outside the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. This rule is being implemented for the 2019-20 season, likely on a permanent basis.

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