Basketball is an evolving sport, and the NBA plays a big part in making sure that the game and the players are on the same page. Through the years, changes in rules, both major and minor, have been implemented in the league for their respective reasons. Perhaps one of the biggest changes that was introduced to the game in very recent memory is the NBA coach challenge rule. So far, the emergence of the coach’s challenge has changed the game for the better, so let’s learn more about it here.
How Many Challenges are Allowed in an NBA Game?
The number of NBA challenges per game is set already. In the essence of fair play, every team is granted only one challenge per game- nothing more. Once this challenge is used already in the game, the team won’t be allowed to contest any succeeding calls. This is why, despite its value, the coach’s challenge shouldn’t be used lightly.
The concept of the coach’s challenge was introduced in the 2019-2020 season. This NBA challenge rule change was created to enhance the accuracy of crucial decisions in the game, especially those that will surely affect the outcome of the game. For the fans, the coach’s challenge adds more suspense to the game. This is a tricky tool for the coaches and players that holds a lot of power over the game.
How Do Coaches Decide When to Call for a Challenge?
Teams in the NBA are only given one challenge per game, which makes this single coach’s challenge very valuable. Calling for a challenge should not be taken lightly, which is why coaches take into account a lot of factors before using this single-use chance to overturn a call. Decision-making involves in-game analytics, players’ POVs, and good ol’ gut feeling. The coach’s challenge doesn’t guarantee that the call will be overturned, so it can all go to waste in the end.
Before asking for a challenge, coaches often rely on their assistant coaches and players who might have seen a better angle of the play. Video feeds have also been crucial in initially reviewing calls before the coaches call for a challenge. After all, the coach’s challenge is a double-edged sword that can swing the momentum to the other team if the challenge is deemed unsuccessful.
In some situations, coaches will also use their challenge simply to provide a breather for fatigued players. A challenge can last more than a timeout, which is just about what players need in order to quickly recover and finish the game. So, if a coach sees their players gasping for air, instead of calling a timeout, the coach would end up calling for a challenge just in case it goes in their favor as well.
How Many NBA Challenges are Successful?
It is not a secret that no matter how good the NBA’s referees are, they can still make mistakes — this is why the coach’s challenge was conceptualized in the first place. The challenge adds integrity to the game and aids the referees in keeping the ball game as error-free as possible. However, even a coach’s challenges can be wrong, and that’s a fact.
The success rate of the coach’s challenges in the NBA depends on the call being contested since some calls are admittedly easier to judge than others. As per the NBA, challenges have been successful around 40% of the time. At the end of the day, the decision whether to overturn a call or not rests upon the same referees who made the call in the first place. However, the challenge allows the referees to take a closer look at the play and possibly correct an initially wrong call. Although 40% may not seem much, that’s still 40 out of 100 potential game-deciding calls corrected.
What Happens if a Challenge is Unsuccessful in the NBA?
Coaches’ challenges inherently create high-risk, high-reward situations. The price of a challenge is one timeout, so if a team only has one timeout left, then the challenge becomes a lot more valuable. If a challenge is deemed unsuccessful, the team loses the right to challenge any more calls down the line, and they also lose that one timeout they spent. In a closely contested match, that one timeout spent on challenging can be critical in setting up a final play to take the game. This dual-penalty rule wasn’t created to discourage a coach’s challenge, it was developed so that teams won’t take challenges lightly.
However, if the challenge is deemed successful and the call is, in fact, overturned, the challenging team gets their timeout back.
How Does Challenges Affect the Game?
The introduction of the coach’s challenge hasn’t just made the NBA more exciting — it has added integrity to the game as well. The coach’s challenge hasn’t just made teams more careful and analytical; it also taught the players to pay more attention to the game. Challenges haven’t been around that long, but they have become an essential and pivotal part of the modern NBA.
For spectators, the concept of a coach’s challenge adds an extra layer of excitement and suspense. If you’ve watched a crucial game boil down to a crucial call that was challenged, you know that everyone holds their breath while the call is being reviewed. These are the little things that make the NBA a lot more exciting to watch these days.
The concept of a coach’s challenge and its success have also prompted a discussion regarding the role of technology in the NBA’s future. This debate has been ongoing across all sports, with the emergence of concepts like VAR for football. While technology is conceptually helpful, the use of it in sports has been resisted by purists.
When all is said and done, though, the effect of the NBA challenge system cannot be underestimated. It has influenced the way coaches think today and has added a level of complexity to the sport that we know. Challenges have changed the tides of the game, and will continue to do so in the coming years.
Wrapping Things Up: How Do Coach’s Challenges Work in the NBA?
In the 2019-2020 season, the NBA implemented the Coach’s Challenge. Ever since its first run in the league, this concept has become undeniably vital to winning games in today’s league. Each team is given one chance to overturn a call made by the referee — lose this challenge and you pay for it with a timeout.
Because of this, a coach’s challenge shouldn’t be used on the fly. Before a coach challenges a call, they often confide with their assistants and players who are more equipped to decide whether they have a chance to win the call. At the end of the day, the concept of the coach’s challenge is here to stay and will continue to usher in more changes to the game. As fans of the sport, we simply have to believe and keep an open mind that these changes bring the game to a whole new level.