The NBA has lately used their minor-league system as a testing ground of sorts. The G-League has been home to the 14-second reset rule on offensive rebounds, four-person referee crews instead of the typical three, and the coach's challenge, which will be implemented this upcoming season.
On Thursday, Zach Lowe reported for ESPN that the G-League was introducing another experimental rule for this season concerning free throws. A player will now only shoot one free throw to determine if he will receive two or three points for a shooting foul. Essentially, if a player gets fouled, it's all or nothing based on one free throw attempt.
This is an interesting idea that clearly has its roots in lowering how long a game takes. The amount of dead time during free throw attempts, especially late in games, is one of the top complaints from casual basketball fans. As Brad Walker, head of G-League operations, told Lowe, G-League games took just over two hours to complete on average last season. With the introduction of these new rules, the hope would be that they could slide just under the two-hour mark.
Personally, I don't view pace of play as that big of an issue in basketball. Games rarely run longer than three hours, and while it can definitely slow to a crawl in the final two minutes, limiting the amount of time spent on free throws addresses only half of the theoretical problem-- teams will still be calling timeouts after every other play to get their ideal matchups on the floor, and there will still be minute-long commercial breaks when there's less than a minute left in the game. That's just television, not a particular problem of any sport.
Nonetheless, the NBA recognizes that the shorter a game is, the more casual viewers it will attract. The G-League, as always, will be the proving ground and show if this idea will translate to the highest level.