For the past 15 years, Mark Cuban has been on a quest to improve the officiating in the NBA. Not always in a way league officials and referees have appreciated — he’s compiled servers full of data and video, made his points publicly and privately, and picked up some healthy fines along the way.
His latest idea on officiating?
Add one more to the floor. There are currently three (plus an alternate). He wants four on the floor.
“Four refs,” was his simple answer. “I think it will make for a smoother game. I think there will be less hidden behind the scenes. Guys will just play basketball, a lot less flopping. I think there will be a lot of upside to it.”
What I would want on this is data. Try it out for a year in the D-League and at Summer League, see how it goes. Track the statistics and compare to the year before, and then talk to the coaches and see what they thought of it. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but you can be sure there would be unintended consequences (there always are).
In theory, another official would mean more watching of plays off the ball, more calls off the ball, and that would force players to reduce to amount of clutching/grabbing/illegal screens away from the play. With players moving more freely, there will be more scoring.
Does it work out that way in reality? Or do we get more borderline off-the-ball calls that drag down the pace of play? And in the end one more body isn’t going to change the bang-bang nature of the most controversial calls in the league. Adding another referee doesn’t make calling a block/charge in the paint any easier.
It likely does not reduce the number of fines Cuban gets for complaining about the officials, either.