The NBA will have two new major points of emphasis heading into 2017-18 for its officials that are in direct response to plays that plagued the league last year.
The first is being termed, unofficially of course, the “Zaza Rule” and will take aim at reckless closeouts like the one Pachulia had against Kawhi Leonard that knocked the Spurs’ star out of the Western Conference Finals. That play stirred up tons of controversy, with many including Gregg Popovich calling it a dirty play, and the league has decided to respond.
According to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, the new point of emphasis will have referees looking for players that slide under shooters on closeouts. There will also be an expansion to the referees’ ability to replay those kinds of calls and upgrade to a flagrant — like with other normal flagrant foul calls — if review shows malicious intent.
The other rule is being unofficially called the “Harden Rule” and will attempt to prevent players from collecting cheap shooting fouls. This is an expansion of the change to the rip through move that was instituted recently with Kevin Durant and is looking to prevent players from collecting three-shot fouls by leaping into contact.
Players will not be able to pull up for a shot after contact anymore, as the foul will be determined on the sequencing of when the foul happened. If prior to the gather, it’s a common foul, if after the gather, it’s a shooting foul. This essentially means continuation is no longer allowed for three-point shots.
Both rule changes will likely make fans happy, with the “Harden Rule” being the one that affects fans the most on a game-to-game basis, but the “Zaza Rule” being the one that shooters will be most fond of. It will be very interesting to see how players adjust to the new points of emphasis as we’ve seen in the past rocky transition periods that result in extra whistles as referees and players both learn the new rules.