by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

The NBA regular season kicks off on December 25th, and the game will look and feel slightly different to fans.

Of course, it’s players, coaches and referees who will need to make the biggest adjustments.

The new rules center on the interpretation of offensive fouls, traveling violations, and most critically, speeding up the game (especially the last few minutes, when it usually degenerates into an interminable free-throw shooting contest.)

ESPN reports on the upcoming changes:

  • Substitutions will only be allowed before the final free throw of any trip to the line that is not for a technical or flagrant foul.
  • Two horns will be sounded 15 seconds apart after every timeout. Teams whose players are not moving toward the court as soon as the second horn sounds will receive a delay-of-game warning.
    Instant replay will be utilized only during full timeouts, not 20-second timeouts, when necessary.
  • Whether a player’s foot is on the three-point line or midcourt line will be determined by where it last touched the floor, meaning a player could have a toe on the three-point line but if he leans back on his heels before he releases the ball a successful shot would be deemed a three-pointer.
  • The eight-second backcourt violation will occur when the shot clock reaches 15 seconds, rather than 16.
  • The last rule is necessary because the 24-second shot clock will now be equipped to show 10ths for the final five seconds and work as a “true” clock. From a technical standpoint, the old shot clock began with 24.9 seconds and expired with .9 left. Now the clock will switch from 24 to 23 seconds after .1 second has expired.

  • According to Stu Jackson, NBA vice president of basketball operations, refs will be less likely to reward players who attempt the infamous “rip-through” move to draw fouls, and you can expect to see more Flagrant Level 2 fouls called when contact is made on airborne offensive players.