Ask most NBA coaches about the league’s new challenge rule and you will get the same answer LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers gave after a Nov. 7 game against Milwaukee. “I hate the rule!”
Late in that Nov. 7 game, Rivers requested a challenge of an offensive foul call. Despite video evidence that appeared to support Rivers’ challenge, the officiating crew did not overturn their original call.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel lost a challenge in the fourth quarter of a game against New Orleans. Vogel is 1-for-6 when challenging calls this season. Lakers star LeBron James commented that NBA referees do not want to be wrong, therefore, they are hesitant to overturn their original call.
While James might be on to something, the numbers say otherwise. Through the end of November, there were 174 coaches’ challenges. A total of 75 of those challenges were overturned giving coaches a success rate of 43 percent.
Still, the rule is not perfect. In a Nov. 20 game against the Clippers, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens challenged a call made against Jaylen Brown. The Clippers Paul George drove to the basket and Brown was called for the block. Video evidence clearly showed George pushing Boston’s Daniel Theis out of the way as he started his drive to the basket. By rule, officials had to ignore that because it was not the start of a “basketball move” that resulted in a shot.
Not one of the league’s 30 head coaches had any sort of endorsement for the new challenge rule. Monty McCutcheon, NBA vice president of referee development and training, said that the league is very pleased with how the new rule has been implemented despite its difficulties.
Translation – coaches hate the new rule, but it isn’t going anywhere.