Jun 13, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) dunks the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lachlan CunninghamPool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The G League will be using a free throw rule change to experiment with reduced game lengths this season, in a move that could become permanent for the G League and, if successful, could even end up being used at the NBA level.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported the news today, noting that the change means one foul shot for one point, two points, or three points, depending on the situation. All of this is with an eye on shortening the game window to be consistently under two hours:

The NBA G League is experimenting this season with a new rule under which all trips to the free throw line will include only a single foul shot that will be worth one, two, or three points depending on the nature of the foul leading to the attempt, officials told ESPN.

It marks the latest move — in both the G League and the NBA — to improve game flow and reduce the length of games. Officials estimate that moving to a “one foul shot for all the points” model will shave between six and eight minutes off of each G League game, says Brad Walker, head of basketball operations for the G League.

The average G League game clocked in at about two hours and five minutes last season, Walker says. This move could take that average below the two-hour barrier, a clean broadcast window that has been in the minds of league officials for years.

It’s definitely a change, though in crunchtime situations the current NBA setup will apply:

The G League will revert back to traditional free throw rules for the last two minutes of regulation and overtime, officials say. Shooting fouls on made baskets — “And-Ones”– will proceed the same way, with the shooter attempting one free throw worth one point.

Lowe’s post is worth reading as it dives into the possible on-court effects, noting that NBA foul shooters are statistically worse on the first attempt. It’s tough to say whether this rule change would place more of an emphasis on foul shooting (obviously one shot is worth more) or less ( the much smaller sample size over the season could make for more noise in the numbers), but it would be a fairly fundamental altering of the game. That’s all for the reward of six-eight minutes per contest.

Obviously the clean two-hour window is something to strive for, but how hard should the league be chasing that?

Using the G League as a testing ground for measures like this is a smart one, though. If it feels like completely different basketball, or if the stats get shaken up to a surprising degree, then they can just move on. But if the flow is better and the time savings are noticeable, it’s probably a discussion worth having.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.