On Nov. 30, the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan went to the foul line 34 times against the Portland Trail Blazers, missing 22 free throws to tie Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game NBA record. Less than two months later, Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond did Jordan and Wilt one worse, missing 23 of his 36 free throws to set the record.
So yeah, hack-a-player is a problem, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is finally seeing the light on that. After his longstanding neutrality on the matter, he told USA Today’s NBA A to Z podcast that changes are probably coming:
“I’m increasingly of the view that we will be looking to make some sort of change in that rule this summer.” …
“Even for those who had not wanted to make the change, we’re being forced to that position just based on these sophisticated coaches understandably using every tactic available to them,” Silver said. “It’s just not the way we want to see the game played.”
Per USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, there were 164 hack-a-player intentional fouls committed by NBA players through mid-December — more than in all of the 2014-15 season — and that number is approaching 300 as the All-Star Break draws near. Jordan (a 42.5 percent free throw shooter), Drummond (35.1 percent) and the Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard (54.7 percent) have accounted for 69 percent of those fouls, with Jordan accounting for 34 percent of them.
An NBA source told Zilgitt that he doesn’t think hack-a-player is going to get banned outright, at least not right away, because the support isn’t there. Instead, the league could take incremental steps such as banning a player jumping on another player’s back during a free throw attempt.
As for other hack-a-player solutions? Zilgitt lists a bunch:
- Ban it.
- Allow the team fouled the option to shoot free throws or take the ball out of bounds, which would essentially eliminate the strategy, as suggested by Tom Ziller of SB Nation.
- Allow a team to use the strategy a certain number of times per game so that DeAndre Jordan is not shooting 34 foul shots in a game, as he did against Portland on Nov. 30.
- Include one extra free throw attempt by any player for a set number of intentional fouls off the ball, an idea suggested by NBA.com’s David Aldridge.