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NBA to experiment with new free throw rules in the G League

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The new rules are unlikely to make it to the NBA, but the league is looking into them.

2019 NBA Finals - Golden State Warriors v Toronto Raptors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or, apparently, experiment with fixing it at a lower level of play.

That’s the approach the NBA is currently taking with free throws, as they’re experimenting with a new rule that will be implemented in the G League. For 2019-20, all players who are fouled in the act of shooting will shoot only one free throw.

If it’s an and-one situation, that one free throw counts as one point, same as always. If they’re fouled shooting a two-point shot, the free throw counts as two points. If they’re fouled shooting a three-pointer, it counts as three points.

It’s an all or nothing situation, which is certainly new.

The goal of the rule is to increase the pace of play, which is a valid concern in baseball. I’m not positive it’s a valid concern in basketball. And if it is a valid concern, maybe limiting timeouts or shortening the game is a better approach.

Ultimately, the rule (which will not apply in the final two minutes of games, or in the overtime period [which is already just two minutes in the G League, part of another rule experiment]), won’t impact scores very much. It adds variance to free throws, but since the same amount of points are still available, it doesn’t change a lot.

It does hurt the scorers a little bit, as free throw shooters are statistically better on the second or third free throw than on the first. As they say in baseball, “one to measure, two to rake.”

So it speeds up the game by only a few minutes, at most, doesn’t really impact the outcome, yet hurts the players. As you can guess, those players aren’t too thrilled about it. Including the face of the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry.

In all likelihood, this rule will never be implemented at the NBA level. But the fact that the league is experimenting with it in the G League means it is at least under consideration moving forward.