The NBA’s intentional foul rules — you know, the ones that allow the “Hack-a-[blank]” strategy which grinds the game to a halt to send the other team’s worst free throw shooters to the foul line — have been a hot topic in the early part of the season.
You can largely thank Dwight Howard and the Lakers for that, since teams are forcing the starting center of one of the league’s glamor franchises to try to make free throws instead of letting them run their offensive sets.
The strategy is mathematically questionable at best, yet with Howard only converting free throws at a clip of just under 47 percent, it’s something that’s likely to persist until that number begins to rise, or until the Lakers are winning games by a large enough margin to make doing so simply unwise.
David Stern said he’d like to eliminate teams’ ability to do this entirely, because from a watchability standpoint, it isn’t very entertaining. But from a strategy standpoint, it makes sense to minimize your opponent’s chances by making them do something that statistically they don’t do very well at all.
It’s a divisive issue, but at least one prominent team owner, Mark Cuban, likes the rule just the way it is.
From Art Garcia of FoxSportsSouthwest.com:
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t for the rule change for basketball reasons from the professional level on down to little leagues.
“It sends the wrong message to kids every where that it’s OK to not pay attention to basketball fundamentals,” Cuban told FoxSportsSouthwest.com.
“In addition, intentional fouls humanize the game. There are 10 year olds who are watching these amazing athletes who have problems with free throws thinking that they can do something an NBA superstar can’t.”
“You can’t give a player an advantage or reward them for failing to do something that is a basic fundamental basketball skill,” Cuban added. “When a guy can’t shoot a jump shot, whether you are in a church league or the NBA, you do what you can to make them shoot jump shots.
“If a guy can’t shoot free throws, you should do the same thing. Do what you can to send them to the line.”
Cuban isn’t likely the only owner who feels this way. And with so few teams and players on the wrong end of the rules the way they currently stand, don’t expect Stern to get much support in his quest to change things anytime soon.