As is often the case during the long WNBA offseason, the scouting of collegiate players and the tracking of the league’s current stars overseas has seemed to overshadow some of the league’s own internal happenings. Last Wednesday, it was announced that the WNBA would be rolling out a pair of rule changes for the 2016 season.
The first rule change is bound to draw some mixed reactions. Starting in 2016, the shot clock will now reset to only 14 seconds after an offensive rebound, rather than the full 24 seconds. This will undoubtedly increase scoring and the overall pace of the game, but it’ll take players and coaches alike some time to get used to.
As for the second rule change, end-of-game situations will now be slightly different. The following rules, which were once applied during the last minute of a WNBA game, will now go into effect during the final two minutes instead (via WNBA.com):
Option to advance the ball after a timeout.
An away-from-the-play foul in the last two minutes will result in one free throw by any player in the game and possession.
The throw-in from the frontcourt during the last two minutes of the fourth period and last two minutes of overtime may be thrown into the backcourt.
If a team has committed three or fewer team fouls during the first eight minutes of any regulation period, or two or fewer team fouls during the first three minutes of any overtime period, the team will be penalized beginning with the second team foul in the last two minutes.
Instant-replay reviews of a two- or three-point shot attempt will be conducted immediately upon a successful basket when the clock stops in the last two minutes of the fourth period or last two minutes of any overtime period.
In other words, this rule is essentially just an extension of an already existing one (rather than a rule change proper) but it’ll still hold big implications for a coach’s crunch-time strategy in close games. Lots of people will argue that advancing the ball after timeouts and the option to inbound the ball into the backcourt was needed a long time ago, but as it is now, the WNBA seems to simply be experimenting with what they hope will increase the excitement and strategy of its brand of basketball.