Blake Griffin wary of new rule

Blake Griffin had a not-so-bold prediction for the 2012-13 season: “I might lead the league in delay-of-games.”

It’s a safe bet, given the NBA’s new policy for calling delay-of-game violations for “interfering with the ball after a successful field goal or free throw.”

If he can find odds while he’s in Las Vegas for the Clippers’ game against the Nuggets Saturday night, Griffin should put money down.

Griffin had the most dunks in the NBA last season, according to basketball-reference.com and he should be among the leaders again. Scoring so often in such close proximity to the basket, he’ll have to fight off years of habit – or even instinct – that tells him to grab the ball after it drops through the hoop. But this season it will be a violation, even if he immediately throws the ball to the nearest official, as Griffin did following an alley-oop lob from Darren Collison in the second quarter of Friday night’s preseason game against Portland.

“It was coming down into me and I caught it and I just forgot,” Griffin said.

The officials didn’t forget the new rule. And because it was the second delay of game on the Clippers, and the Trail Blazers shot a technical free throw.

Griffin could joke about it afterward, but warned that the rule could have serious consequences at some point.

“A team’s going to lose a game off that, in my opinion,” Griffin said.

It’s not so far-fetched. With technical free throws shot on the second and all subsequent delay-of-game penalties, this rule could provide the winning margin in a one-point game.

The other unintended consequence from blowing the whistle on these previously uncalled violations: “It’s going to end up slowing the game down even more, [when] they’re trying to speed the game up,” Griffin said.

Unfortunately this is not a point of emphasis that’s open to interpretation, as was the lower technical foul threshold from a few years ago that was slowly phased out over the course of the season. This is a rule that’s in the books and has to be called consistently. Players will eventually adjust and leave the ball alone. But how many violations will be called – or even games lost – in the interim, based on a rule that no fans were clamoring to see implemented?

UPDATE: I heard from an NBA general manager who said players increasingly used this tactic to intentionally slow down the pace of games, and teams had complained to the league about it. Clearly there was a faction that wanted something done, thus the rule change that they believe will make the game better. What do you think about it?