In case you missed it this week, basketball has been ruined.
The Golden State Warriors have pioneered a style of basketball that eschews the
boring correct playing style that puts an emphasis on patient offense and working to get the best, closest look at the hoop in favor of a light your hair on fire because it’s so cool and so fun helter-skelter, unorganized mess that’s predicated on the dope gimmicky three-pointer. In part because of the style and in part because of the culture of the team and in part because of salary cap madness, the Warriors added Kevin Durant and became maybe the best team ever and certainly the best offensive team ever this is clearly very different than when LeBron James went to the Miami Heat with two other superstars and eventually Ray Allen for reasons no one can really articulate.
Clearly, this is an existential threat to the game of at all levels.
Because of this, it is high time that we get down to fixing this game of basketball before it spirals even farther out of control. We need new rules, not only to curtail Warriors Induced Hysteria (WIH Syndrome), but because we stand on the precipice, and there is no better time to introduce radical rule changes than when you are on a precipice. I assume. Precipices are scary so I avoid them.
1. Eliminate the shot clock
The biggest issue evolving at every level of basketball is the gulf between the haves and the have nots. While Golden State in the NBA is set to evaporate the competition for the next half decade or so, the college game too is becoming ever more stratified as the Power 5 separate themselves from the rest of the country. There are tough ways to try and rectify this problem. You can institute a hard salary cap in the NBA. You can try and cut down the number of D-I teams in college to more evenly distribute talent. But those ideas all suck and are all overkill.
The way you even the game is by upping variance of outcomes. The way you up the variance of outcomes is by shrinking the number of possessions. The way you shrink the number of possessions is to remove the shot clock entirely.
At the highest level of basketball, this wouldn’t affect anything. It’s still in the best interest of the best teams to play as fast as possible. The fastbreak is still the best offense in basketball, and for teams that have a skill advantage, you want to get as many possessions possible. That’s why good teams play fast.
To the wise person who will read this and say “WELL, VIRGINIA DOESN’T PLAY FAST AND THEY’RE GOOD,” I say “they’re not.”
But where this rule change could prove transformational are in games where there is a clear talent disparity. If Portland held the ball for five minutes a possession against Gonzaga, maybe they could make it a game. Ditto for North Texas vs. Western Kentucky. Or Golden State vs the 76ers. Or Golden State vs the Cavs.
2. Allow referees to play advantage
To the non-soccer fans out there, let me explain this rule. In soccer, if a player is fouled but the attacking team still has an advantage, the referee will allow the team to continue going forward instead of immediately blowing the play dead. The rule precludes a team being unjustly penalized by the other team committing a foul.
This is a perfect rule for basketball.
It’s the best way to get rid of the hack-a-Shaq. You put DeAndre Jordan in a bear hug at mid-court? Who cares. Play on. Instead of making weird run-around rules that lead to the game being officiated differently at different points in the game, this rule can be evenly adjudicated at all stages of the contest.
The biggest plus? We no longer have to see those dumb Euro-fouls that swallow a fastbreak and rob us from seeing a sweet dunk on the other end. Those fouls are cheap and dumb and garbage and need to be shot into the sun.
3: Hockey substitutions
It’d be kind of neat to see full defensive units swapped out for full offensive units in the flow of the action.
4: Make every team have a live mascot
Would this meaningfully affect the way the game is played? No, probably not. But everyone knows the best mascots, like Handsome Dan, or Trip at Butler, or the LSU tiger (RIP), or Jonathan the Husky at UConn. Retire the creepy and terrible fake mascots.
5: Add a 4-point line
I don’t know, who gives a shit, Duke is still gonna make the Final Four and the Warriors are still going to win the NBA Championship, it doesn’t matter.