Although it has come under fire, especially during this year’s playoffs, the NBA’s Hack-a-Shaq rule may not be changed anytime soon and rightly so.
The Hack-a-Shaq, or the rule that permits NBA teams to intentionally foul a poor free throw shooter seemingly without any repercussion, has been scrutinized for a while now, but recently it has come under more fire than usual. Games during this year’s playoffs have featured an excessive amount of free throws. This has resulted in many calling on Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s competition committee to amend this rule prior to the start of the 2015-16 season.
Although some fans, players and coaches alike have all expressed their displeasure with the rule, it may not be going away anytime soon. According to CBSSports, at Wednesday’s annual meeting of the league’s general managers there was “no overwhelming consensus to change the rule.”
“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.”
While the competition committee could easily go against this viewpoint and recommend a rule change to the league’s Board of Governors later this summer, they shouldn’t, as the general managers’ stance that the perception is bigger than reality is spot on.
During the 2014-15 regular season and playoffs, 76 percent of the intentional fouls that were committed across the league were committed against only five players. Those players included Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Joey Dorsey, Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan, who by his lonesome was on the receiving end of about half of this year’s intentional fouls.
While watching a game that features upwards of 90 free throws — such as Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers — is no fun for anyone, it does not mean that a rule change is needed. After all, why should the league change a rule for only a handful of individuals?
In today’s society, it is much easier for people to clamor for a change in the rules when they don’t like how something is, and the sports world is no exception. Rather than complaining about a rule that affects only a small portion of the league’s players, these select individuals should instead work on a solution that would cause them to no longer become a target of these tactics.
The simplest solution for this problem is for these individuals to simply work on making their free throws. While Howard may be a career 57.3 percent free-throw shooter and Jordan is at 41.7 percent, they could do as many have done in the past and spend more time in the gym developing this aspect of their game.
During the early part of his career, Jordan’s teammate Blake Griffin was a victim of this hacking strategy. After shooting a career-low 52.1 percent from the free throw line during his sophomore season, Griffin put the work in and developed into the 72.8 percent free-throw shooter that he was this season. Tiago Splitter of the San Antonio Spurs was the victim of this strategy as well during his early years. However, after shooting just above 54 percent from the line during his rookie season, Splitter soon evolved into a 75 percent free-throw shooter.
Watching a game that becomes a glorified free throw shooting contest may not be the most ideal situation, but just because a select few individuals cannot make their free throws does not mean that the league should amend a rule to bail them out. Fans, players, coaches and even possibly the competition committee may want to put an end to Hack-a-Shaq, but instead they should listen to the league’s general managers and let things remain the way they are.