A Brief Proposal for Improving the Late-Game NBA Sixth-Foul Situation

Episode 12 of Bryan Allain’s wonderful SchnozCast saw the host asking, “If you were the Commissioner, what’s the one thing that you would change?”  Bryan had a suggestion about changing the the foul situation to where you never foul out.  I have an idea, and it’s a decision tree.

  1. If you commit six physical fouls before the 8:00 mark of the 4th quarter, you’re done.  The chances are that you’re a big man brought in to bang bodies and get Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan to the line.  If you get six fouls in 40:00, you’re done.  Why?  The chances are that you’re not a key part of the game.  If you’re a star big, you’re not getting a sixth foul that early anyway unless Joey Crawford hates you.  Put another way: if you pick up six in 40:00, you’re A) having a really bad night of things and B) playing for a coach that’s too dumb to sit you out enough to get you halfway into the fourth quarter.
  2. From 8:00 to 4:00, any sixth or higher foul awards two shots to the fouled player and possession of the ball to the fouled player’s team.
  3. From 4:00 to 2:00, any sixth or higher foul is two shots, possession, and the offender cannot check in to the game for 2:00.  This is much like hockey’s minor penalty situation, except each team would still have five players on the court.  The goal is to get the offender off the court but not remove them completely from the game.  A late-but-not-very-late foul shouldn’t hamstring the squad.
  4. From 2:00 to the buzzer, any sixth or higher foul is two shots, possession of the ball, and the player sits out the rest of regulation time.  If the game goes into overtime, the penalty would carry over to the start of overtime.
  5. Overtime: other than carryover time, a sixth or higher foul is two shots, possession, and the two-minute rule again, unless the clock is at 1:00 or less, at which point the player is gone from the game, regardless of the number of overtimes.

Any two-shots situation would increase to three if the foul is made on a shooter beyond the three-point line.

The calculus here switches from “if I take this foul, I’m gone” to “if I take this foul, we give up shots and a possession, and maybe I’m out for two minutes”.  There may be times that you want to take the foul; e.g., Dwight Howard is going to get an emphatic dunk that will light up the home crowd and his teammates.  Your rim protection prevents the easy two and shifts play to the foul line, which slows the game down and puts pressure on a shaky foul shooter.  Moreover, possession would either come on the side or end line, which puts the offensive team into a half-court situation, which may favor your matchup.

But you get the penalty regardless of make or miss.  Foul Dwight but not enough to prevent the dunk, and you give him two shots and possession.  That’s a huge swing, so you have to know that the foul will impact the shot.

What are your thoughts, Bryan?

My Thoughts on the 2012 Boston Celtics and the Immediate Future

Okay, so the Celtics’ 2012 season is done. Congratulations to the Heat, who played well in the fourth and deserved the win. The fellas were just out of gas.

Here’s what I expect will happen for next year:

1. Ray leaves in free agency. He’ll get his ankles fixed by the end of the month, and he’ll rehab through the summer and be ready to be a sniper from outside. Will he come back to Boston? I think this is doubtful, because he’ll get more money elsewhere. The only way he comes back is because …

2. KG signs for below-market value to win another title in Boston. I think he’s fully bought in to being a Celtic. I love that, because I love seeing guys do that. I think KG stays because Rondo and Truth go up to him and say, “Please stay. We’re going to be better next year.” Kevin wants to win another title, and Boston is the best place for his talents.

3. Paul is under contract, and he damn well better end his career a Celtic. ((Do you hear me, Danny? I will flood your INBOX.)) If Ray leaves, I think Truth moves out to the SG spot where he can work off of screens and fire daggers when he feels like it, and he’ll also have smaller guards that he can post up with that spin-shake-stepback he has. Just because Paul can play the 3 or the 4 doesn’t mean that he should do it on a regular basis. Paul also has to come into camp something close to game shape. Why does Paul get to move outside?

4. Jeff Green gets signed up to be the 3/4 guy that he was supposed to be after the Perkins trade. He can get 30-40 minutes with a starting bid, playing more inside if you go with a small-ball lineup and hanging on the perimeter the rest of the time. Green was supposed to be a super-sub, but he never got going with that after being traded to Boston. As the draft pick in the Ray Allen deal, it would be fitting for him to come in after Ray leaves.

5. Brandon Bass is clearly the power forward going forward for Boston. Maybe he slides out to the 3 if the Celtics can sign another big, but he’s shown a willingness to bang down low and fight for rebounds. Also, his lack of size really didn’t hurt the Celtics that much. His ability to hit that 15-footer and drain free throws like, well, Ray Allen, makes him a solid contributor. He can go stretches as the primary scorer on the floor, and I don’t think anybody had the idea coming into the year that he could do that. Would I have loved to have David West over him? Yes, but I’m very happy with Bass. His ECF performance was a revelation. He’s all growns up and he’s all growns up!

6. I’ve completely ignored Avery Bradley here, which is a shame, but I’m just not sure what you’re going to get out of him after the shoulder surgery. Can he step in and play SG? Yes, he probably can. Jeff Green may end up being the sixth man if Zilch can come back, drain from outside, and make stops. I’m just honestly not counting on it, which is not a knock on him but is just realism on shoulder surgeries.

7. The bench needs to be flushed away save for Pietrus, Dooling, and Stiemsma. Okay, maybe you keep Daniels around for his ability to be ready to play 15 minutes when Pierce is in foul trouble ((Which he is more as he gets older. I think he’s losing body control on the defensive end. Plus, I think refs are just tired of the antics. Still, nobody draws a foul like Paul.)), which certainly has a certain value. Rollins, Pavlovic, Wilcox can all go away. Maybe the Purdue kids will thrive in summer league and a full training camp. Can we get JaJuan in a weight room and to a training table? I don’t think he’s got the bulk to be a 4 in this league.

If tonight was the last run for the Big Four, I’m happy that I got to see it. This lineup ran longer than anyone truly expected. This team was one bad game and one bad fourth quarter from their third Finals in five years with three future Hall-of-Famers who were all over 30 in a young man’s league. They’re one torn knee ligament from getting enough rebounds to beat the Lakers in 2010. That this team was so close so often is a testament to how good they are despite their obvious frailties. This season’s team was a lot of fun to watch, and I got to do a lot of it thanks to League Pass Broadband’s support for the AppleTV. I’m still proud of the Celtics, and I probably always will be. I hope the fellas get #18 in 2013.

It’s the Marketing, Stupid

It’s Final Four time, and as we see every year, the pundits are talking about which kids will go pro—many after one year. As such, the NBA’s one-and-done rule—you have to be a year removed from your high school graduation to be draft eligible, which pushes kids into college—is being rehashed again.

Here’s what gets me: why does no one ever talk about the main reason that you push kids into one year of college, which is that the TV coverage at the college level is far and above what is at the high school level? With the one-and-done rule in place, the NBA draft is now something where a casual fan can tune in and know two-thirds of the players. Before the rule, the NBA draft was beginning to come to be dominated by foreign players and high school kids, all drafted on potential. Sure, lots of those guys panned out, and lots flamed out—like any draft. But the big thing is, today we know who the players are.

Consider the upcoming draft. We know who Derrick Rose is. We know Michael Beasley. We’ve even endlessly debated whether Kevin Love is a legit NBA starter or a 7th man who works into your frontcourt rotation. None of this would have happened without the one-and-done rule.

It’s the best marketing thing the NBA has done in years. These kids get a smaller stage to shine on, another year of maturity, and a better quality of basketball than the level they just dominated. The kids get to wait a year, but … so? Name another profession other than “professional athlete” where the kid has six-figure skills, much less seven- or eight-figure skills, at 18. Go ahead. I’m waiting.

It’s the marketing, stupid.