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D-League experimenting with coaches’ challenges

Tom Thibodeau, Scott Foster

Tom Thibodeau, Scott Foster


Among its many purposes, the D-League is a testing ground for ideas that might become viable in the NBA.

On a league-wide level, that could mean giving players one free throw per trip to the line.

By team – and I specifically mean the Kings’ D-League affiliate – that could mean a wild system that inflates one player’s scoring total or using a cherry picker.

Here’s a league-wide experiment that will reportedly happen this season.

Gino Pilato of D-League Digest:

According to sources, coaches will receive one challenge in regulation, if the challenge is successful the team will be allowed an additional challenge with a maximum of two challenges. Teams will also be granted one challenge in each overtime period, and if successful will be issued another challenge, once again with a maximum of two challenges. It is also important to note that there will be no carry-over of any unused challenge.

Furthermore, coaches will need to call a timeout (full or 30 second) to challenge then “twirl their finger” to indicate the challenge. Plays that can be challenged include personal fouls, but not flopping calls. Technical fouls can’t be challenged as well.

I’d like to see more correct calls, but these would be the most subjective calls to be reviewed across major sports.

Football, baseball and hockey have much different limits for what can be reviewed.

Did the receiver get two feet in bounds? Did the ball land fair or foul? Did the puck cross the goal line?

These – like all issues allowed to be reviewed in those sports – are questions with definitive answers.

Reviewing a personal foul still requires much more interpretation, though slowing down a play and getting multiple angles could help get the best call – and the NBA is better situated to find those angles than ever before.

Beyond those concerns, the obvious hang-up is slowing the game. More reviews take time, and the NBA is already trying to decrease the length of its game.

If letting coaches challenge fouls is going to work, the reviews must happen quickly. This experiment in the D-League should help determine what’s viable.