NBA approves Play-in Tournament, penalizes ‘take fouls’

Last season, “take fouls” in the NBA were a huge talking point and something many felt needed to be removed from the game; on Tuesday, the league decided that things had to change.

The NBA Board of Governors approved a change to the playing rules that will impose a heightened penalty when a defensive player commits a “transition take foul,” which is an intentional foul committed by a defender to deprive the offensive team of a fast-break opportunity.

In addition, the league approved the adoption of the NBA Play-In Tournament on a full-time basis.

Transition Take Foul

Beginning with the 2022-23 NBA season, the penalty for committing a take foul (a foul in which the defender does not make a play on the ball) to stop a transition scoring opportunity (which exists when, following a change in possession, the offensive team is continuously advancing the ball while it has an advantage based on the speed of the play, the position of the defenders or both) will be as follows:

• The offensive team will be awarded one free throw, which may be attempted by any player on the offensive team in the game at the time that the foul is committed.

• The offensive team will retain possession of the ball.

• The defensive player who commits the take foul will be assessed a common personal foul.

Previously, the penalty for a take foul was a common personal foul on the offending player and (assuming the foul did not trigger or exceed the free throw “bonus” in a quarter) a side out for the offensive team.

Under the new rule, teams may commit a take foul during the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and the last two minutes of any overtime period (regardless of whether the foul occurs during a fast-break play) without triggering the heightened penalty.  This exception will allow the defensive team to use the longstanding tactic of taking a foul to stop the clock during an attempted comeback or prevent the opposing team from potentially tying the game with a three-pointer.

Below are additional clarifications to the new rule:

• A take foul committed immediately after a change of possession but before the offensive team has the opportunity to advance the ball will be subject to the heightened penalty.  This will prevent the defensive team from immediately taking a foul to keep the offensive team from generating a transition scoring opportunity in the first place.

• A foul committed against any offensive player (including a player who does not have the ball) will satisfy the definition of a transition take foul if the other elements of the transition take foul rule are satisfied.  This will prevent the defensive team from circumventing the new rule by taking a foul on a player who does not have the ball.

• The transition take foul rule does not apply if the offensive player is fouled in the act of shooting.  In that case, a shooting foul will be called.

Any foul committed by a defender attempting to make a legitimate play on the ball will remain a common personal foul (regardless of whether the foul occurs during a fast-break play) and will not be subject to a heightened penalty under the new rule.  However, the offending player may be assessed a clear-path-to-the-basket foul if the criteria for a clear-path foul are met.

NBA Play-In Tournament

The NBA Play-In Tournament that was implemented on a one-year basis for the 2020-21 season and extended for the 2021-22 season will now continue on a full-time basis.  Under this format, the teams that finish the regular season with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will compete to fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.

For the 2022-23 NBA season, the Play-In Tournament will take place April 11-14, 2023, between the last day of the regular season on April 9 and the start of the playoffs on April 15.

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