• Matt Esposito

G-League To Test New Free Throw Rule: Why I Love This Idea


According to multiple news outlets, the NBA G-League will spend next season as a trial and error period for a new take on free throws. Specifically, they will make each shot worth two or three points. So, if you are fouled on a two-pointer, then you can either score zero or two shots at the line and do so in a single shot. The same rule applies for a 3-point foul. And-one rules will remain the same (shoutout me for crushing the rare occasion for starting a sentence with "and.")

The G-League nailed this one and to be frank, they needed a comeback. After all, how can we buy into a league that sold its name to a sports drink company? If they were smart they would have synchronized the changing of their name to the rise of 50 Cent and G-Unit, perpetually marrying their hype to the career of one of pop cultures most enigmatic cult heroes. But that's none of my business, because real "Gs" move in silence like lasagna.

Back to the topic at hand. There are some real reasons I approve of this experiment. Basketball reasons. As the vice co-chair of soaring non-profit BasketballisBetterThanFootball, I applaud this move for attempting to create a cleaner product. The greatest critique of the NFL is that no one likes staring at a screen for seven minutes while Collinsworth mumbles, "Let's see what the good folks at our replay center in Secaucus think." This move, however, should shave between six to eight minutes off of NBA games.

Perfect. Because as a school teacher, the difference between going to bed at 10:42 and 10:34 is actually significant. Realistically, this will impact the viewing experience by altering the energy in which games are broadcasted and therefore, watched. Trust me, Jeff Van Gundy can do a helluva lot of complaining during the span of two free throws. If there is only, one, however, the paced of the game upticks just enough to positively alter your viewing experience.

This move could also have an interesting ripple across some of the game's top free throw attempts leaders. Let's discuss a couple hypotheticals. According to Kevin Arnovitz (read: Nerdovitz) players tend to shoot more poorly on free throw attempt one than they do on attempts two and three.

Consider how this would affect a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo. He finished second in attempts last season and shot an underwhelming 72.9 percent from the stripe. If Arnowitz's theory proves true, then Giannis could dip below 70 percent from the line. Would it impact his game? Would he be less hesitant to attack? More importantly, how will both Stephen A. and NBA Twitter react when he goes 2-7 down the stretch of a premier matchup against the Sixers?

What if this rule gets into the head of Russell Westbrook, who shot 65.6 percent from the line last year while finishing 14th in attempts. If the NBA adopts this rule and an ice age concurrently happens, it won't be due to climate change. Rather, hell froze over and Westbrook deferred to a more talented teammate (Harden, James.) I may unmute Colin Cowherd just to hear him snidely rant, "How the hell did this dude win an MVP when he shoots under 60 percent from the line!?"

Don't worry, I'll mute him again after I listen. The point stands, however. Not only could the game become a better product but, this rule tweak could insert an entirely new discussion among wherever you obtain you NBA social media. I am also interested in what could be a proverbial line-in-the-sand between NBA purists and new age hoops fans.

For instance, old schoolers who wake up in cold sweats shouting, "bounce pass into the post, bounce pass!" may puke if the NBA ever implements this change. We will call these people students of The School of Barkley. Next, we have conflicted souls known as Bill Simmons. This group of middle aged men have listened to enough Bloomberg podcasts to know quicker is better yet, they want to watch their dad's brand of basketball. If you have the newest iPhone but have to increase the text size, you fall in this category.

Lastly, we have my generation of hoops addicts. We tend to be on board with trying new things. If they don't work out, they don't work out. At the end of the day, however, we are willing to embrace something new for the sake of progress and entertainment. So, good on you, NBA.

My next challenge for the league: get rid of the draft and lean into the chaos.

#freethrows #NBAGLeague #GiannisAntetokounmpo #RussellWestbrook #MattEsposito