Adam Silver has said he’s on the fence about whether or not the league should look to change the rules surrounding intentional fouls away from the ball — also known as the Hack-a-Shaq strategy — that sends dismal free throw shooters to the line on purpose.
From a strategy standpoint, it can seem to make sense.
From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s brutal to watch.
The NBA is an entertainment product above all else, so removing the least entertaining portion of the game would seem to be in the league’s best interest. But while an earlier report placed the odds of the league making such a change at 85 percent, the latest version seems to indicate that team executives aren’t wholeheartedly convinced.
At the annual meeting of NBA general managers Wednesday in Chicago, there was no overwhelming consensus to change the rules to discourage teams from intentionally fouling poor free-throw shooters, league sources told CBSSports.com.
“There is not enough support to change it,” one executive in the meeting said. “It’s one of those perception is bigger than reality issues.”
League officials presented data on intentional fouling that strongly suggested the problem is an isolated one, despite all the attention it has gotten during the postseason. According to the data shared with GMs at the meeting, 76 percent of the intentional fouls this season — regular season and playoffs — have been committed against five players: DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Joey Dorsey and Andre Drummond.
Jordan, the Clippers’ center who has been hacked into the next century through the first two rounds of the playoffs, has accounted for about half of all intentional fouls this season, according to the league data.
The statistics presented are what likely killed the desire to make a change more than anything else.
If such a small percentage of players are the ones victimized by the strategy the vast majority of the time, then it would seem to be a smaller problem than most have made it out to be. But because two of those players are currently facing each other in a high-profile seven-game series in the second round of the playoffs, it can make for some extremely ugly basketball, nationally-televised all by itself for the NBA-watching world to see.
It’s worth noting that this will still be discussed by the competition committee during its July meeting in Las Vegas, and it may still be recommended that the rules need to be changed. But it’s far from a consensus at this point, at least in the early stages of discussion.