New WNBA Rules Changes For 2013
Last week, the WNBA announced rules changes for the upcoming 2013 season. As with recent rules changes in the past, changes made to the NBA game have been implemented for the WNBA game as well.
Three of the rules additions, fines for flopping, replay review for the level of Flagrant Fouls and replay review for foul calls made inside/outside the restricted area in the final minute and overtime, have been made after the NBA instituted the same rules changes for the 2012-13 season. I think all are good additions. In my mind, it’s not just the flop on the defensive end, it’s the flop that offensive players create when there is incidental contact on a drive to the basket. This will clean up the game. And the ability for the officials to review replay to determine the severity and location on the floor of a foul call gives them another tool to do their jobs and get the call right. They have a tough enough job as it is and this allows them to use video replay to determine if the Flagrant Foul is a #1 or #2, or if it is a personal or technical foul.
The other two rules changes are significant, because it will truly change the way the game is played and take some adjustment from the players. The three-point line will be moved from 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches to match the line used in international play. Remember, when the WNBA started, it used the old college and current high school line at 19 feet, 9 inches. Most good shooters will have no issue with the line, and I think the Fever players will be fine. They play overseas with the longer line, and many of Katie Douglas’ three-point attempts were well beyond last year’s line. That holds true for Briann January, Erin Phillips, Shavonte Zellous, and of course, Tamika Catchings. And Jeanette Pohlen’s shots sometimes are out near the NBA line. On some other teams, I think it will stop some players from shooting the three who shouldn’t have been shooting it in the first place.
The change to the rule that now defines “defensive three seconds” could be the most significant, because it will now mirror the NBA and not women’s college basketball. Before, there were no rules on how defenders were positioned on the floor whether you were playing a zone or man-to-man defense. Now, defenders can no longer camp out in the lane in a help situation in man-to-man or in the middle of a 2-3 zone. They must be actively guarding an offensive player or the result is a technical foul for defensive three-seconds. So just like an offensive player can’t be in the lane for three seconds, that now holds true for a defender.
What do these last two rules changes mean? It should open the middle of the floor and lane, create spacing and increase opportunities for athletic players to get to the rim for a basket or a kickout to an open player on the perimeter. I think this really helps the Fever who played that style quite successfully with their smaller lineup during their post-season run to a WNBA championship. Now there will be plenty of room for Catchings to work her magic as the Fever look to repeat in 2013.