NBA: Letting the ball roll forward in the backcourt

Quite a few times in any given NBA game today, you’ll see the point guard let the ball roll around on the floor to advance it a little bit, without taking time off the game clock or shot clock, before beginning to dribble it. Is this a fairly new phenomenon, or not? A rule change? A loophole?

It’s kind of a loophole. The ball isn’t live until an inbounds player touches it. Usually the defense is already set after a timeout and awaiting an attempt to tie or win the game.

You see it a lot during the NCAA tournament in March, too

The thing that really bothers me about it is the 5 second rule. Once the player takes the ball out of bounds he has 5 seconds to inbound it. That time of the ball slowly rolling across the floor counts. I’m sure I’ve seen rolls longer than 5 seconds, but you almost never see the refs call it.

No. Once the ball is released from the inbounder’s hands, the 5 second rule is no longer relevant.

What about the 8-second rule? You gotta get the ball into the frontcourt within 8 seconds. Does that clock also start when the offensive player picks up the ball?

It’s “sort of” new, as there was a time when the 5-second count to inbound the ball kept going until it was touched, but that was changed years ago.

Yes - the 8-second count (10 in college men’s basketball) begins when the ball is touched.

Yep, it’s a way to save clock at the risk of the opponent challenging before half court. An inattentive point versus an aggressive guard can easily give up two points, defeating the entire purpose of the play.