Andre Drummond played 93 seconds of the fourth quarter Friday night against Cleveland.
Maybe you see that as his rightful punishment for not being able to hit free throws. Or maybe you see it as bad for the sport that the ability to make a non-basketball play — and intentionally fouling a player 30 feet off the ball to send him to the free throw line is not a basketball play in the spirit of the game — forces one team’s best player to the bench for the key stretches of the game.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is just frustrated. With Drummond, with the system, with the fact his team is down 0-3 to the Cavaliers. Here is what he said about Drummond being forced to sit postgame, via Nick Friedell of ESPN.
“Yeah, because you can’t do anything with him,” Van Gundy said. “He can’t run to set a screen, he can’t do anything. You’ve just got opportunities to foul him. Now would they have [worked]? I don’t know. But I gave him one possession — we’re behind. We can’t go down and play for zero points. Even though we did, we just, we can’t do that. He had energy, but [Cavs center] Tristan Thompson had eight offensive rebounds. Hardly a dominant performance.”
While there is still some opposition among owners and GMs to this idea, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he wants to see a change in the rules to prevent hack-a-player. The bottom line is the NBA is in the entertainment business and there is nothing entertaining about a string of free throws and guys being fouled off the ball to force those shots (Silver said the NBA’s television partners have voiced this issue).
But fixing the rule is not going to be easy.
“You’d have to see what they do, what the change is, how the rule is written, and everything else,” Van Gundy said after Friday’s shootaround. “What we do as coaches is try to do whatever we can to win within the rulebook, so we’d have to see how it was written. My concern would be if they’re going to change [the rule], they have to truly change it and you’ve got to make sure, you’ve really got to take some time and think of how coaches are going to get around it. And try to write the rule in such a way — so you can say they just can’t go grab guys.”
This is a great point. Using the Pistons as an example, SVG likes to use Drummond in the pick-and-roll with Reggie Jackson, it’s a big part of their offense. If the rule is written so that fouls far off the ball are eliminated that’s great, but if the opposing team can just “unintentionally” foul Drummond as he sets a pick, he’s still essentially neutered, he can’t be involved in the play. There is nothing that could be done to stop a fast foul once Drummond touched the ball in the post or wherever.
Changing this rule is not going to be simple, but for the sake of the game something needs to be done, because hacking players off the ball is simply not good for the sport or within the spirit of the game.