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NBA Power Rankings: Is this the beginning of the end of Hack-A-Shaq?

Detroit Pistons star Andre Drummond is one of several players who is the subject of plenty of intentional fouling. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Change may finally be coming to the Hack-A-Shaq rules.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens unintentionally set off the latest round of debates about the subject of intentional fouling when, prior to Boston’s home game against Sacramento Sunday afternoon, he said the NBA had sent out an email saying that when teams have a player jump on the back of an opposing player during a free throw, instead of a loose-ball foul – which results in two free throws – it would be a flagrant foul, meaning two foul shots as well as getting the ball back again.

The only problem? Stevens wasn’t quite accurate. A member of the NBA’s competition committee, Stevens had been sent a memo by league officials, along with the other committee members, discussing a potential change in how the play is viewed by officials, and somehow misinterpreted that – leading to league officials then spending Sunday morning and early afternoon trying to walk back what Stevens had said.

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Still, even the league admitted an adjustment at how the play is interpreted was on the horizon – as it should be. There have been far too many words written and spoken about intentional fouling already, but this play of having guys leap onto the back of poor foul shooters standing at the line is one that was inevitably going to lead to someone getting hurt.

This won’t be nearly enough to make the very vocal detractors of the overall policy happy; nothing short of getting rid of intentional fouling completely is going to do that. But this is a good first step.

And if you take what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said this week to USA Today about the subject, it could be the first of many steps.

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“I’m increasingly of the view that we will be looking to make some sort of change in that rule this summer,” Silver said.

“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. It’s just not the way we want to see the game played.”

Then there was Washington Wizards forward Jared Dudley, who chimed in on Twitter Sunday morning:

The winds of change seem to be blowing in the direction of getting rid of — or at least reducing the instances of — Hack-A-Shaq in the NBA. Whenever this is implemented, it will be a good start.

This week’s rankings

1. Golden State Warriors (46-4) | Last week’s rank: 1
Saturday’s win over the Thunder was closer than the games against the Cavaliers and Spurs, but the Warriors keep getting it done.

2. Toronto Raptors (34-16) | Last week’s rank: 2
This is going to be a big week for the Raptors, who host their first All-Star Game and will have both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in it.

3. San Antonio Spurs (43-8) | Last week’s rank: 4
Tim Duncan is still sidelined with knee soreness, which is a concern, but the Spurs have recovered from their blowout loss to Golden State.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-14) | Last week’s rank: 5
Oklahoma City showed at Golden State on Saturday night that the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can give the Warriors problems.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (36-14) | Last week’s rank: 3
They’ve already changed coaches, but it feels like the Cavaliers still need to add something before the trade deadline to truly challenge the West’s elite.

Will the Rockets really trade Dwight Howard this season?

6. Los Angeles Clippers (34-17) | Last week’s rank: 6
First it was Blake Griffin, and now Austin Rivers has broken his hand.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (30-21) | Last week’s rank: 7
It’s been fun to see the Grizzlies prove their early-season doubters wrong – this space included.

8. Boston Celtics (31-22) | Last week’s rank: 10
Imagine what this team will look like when it has true star talent on its roster.

9. Miami Heat (29-23) | Last week: 9
It’s still hard to believe this team has so many issues with consistency this late into the season.

10. Utah Jazz (27-25) | Last week’s rank: 20
The Jazz have started to get healthy, and now they’ve rattled off six wins in a row as a result.

This was supposed to be the year everything came together for the Wizards. So far, it hasn’t.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (25-27) | Last week’s rank: 12
Terry Stotts continues to do an incredible job with this convoluted Trail Blazers roster.

12. Dallas Mavericks (29-25) | Last week’s rank: 8
The Rick Carlisle-Chandler Parsons bromance has been fascinating to watch from afar.

13. Indiana Pacers (27-24) | Last week’s rank: 13
As Myles Turner continues to impress, you can’t help but tip your cap to Larry Bird for his ability to find talent in the middle of the first round.

14. Chicago Bulls (27-23) | Last week’s rank: 11
The Bulls appear to have dodged disaster from what looked like a possibly devastating injury to Jimmy Butler Friday in Denver.

15. Atlanta Hawks (30-23) | Last week’s rank: 14
Atlanta seems to be affected by the constant trade speculation surrounding Jeff Teague.

If the Clippers choose to trade Blake Griffin, where could he go?

16. Houston Rockets (27-26) | Last week’s rank: 15
It will be fascinating to see how the Rockets approach the next two weeks before the trade deadline.

17. Charlotte Hornets (25-26) | Last week’s rank: 17
With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back, the Hornets have every reason to think they can get back in the playoff race.

18. Detroit Pistons (27-25) | Last week’s rank: 16
Detroit seems likely to be aggressive between now and the deadline to try and ensure the Pistons will return to the postseason.

19. Washington Wizards (22-27) | Last week’s rank: 19
The Wizards need to win their final two games before the all-star break. The time to start turning things around is now.

20. Denver Nuggets (21-31) | Last week’s rank: 23
There’s lots of reasons for optimism in Denver, where the Nuggets have a bunch of young talent that appears to be meshing well together.

Steve Kerr’s work with the Warriors shows how NBA greatness requires great coaching

21. Philadelphia 76ers (8-43) | Last week’s rank: 25
Never expected the 76ers to be this high, but things have changed quite a bit over the past few weeks in Philadelphia.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-36) | Last week’s rank: 27
How much fun will Zach LaVine be in his dunk contest encore this weekend?

23. New York Knicks (23-31) | Last week’s rank: 18
With five straight losses and nine losses in their past 10 games, the playoffs appear to be a rapidly fading dream for the Knicks.

24. Sacramento Kings (21-30) | Last week’s rank: 22
It appears to be a matter of when – not if – George Karl will be fired, adding to the era of dysfunction in Sacramento.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (18-32) | Last week’s rank: 21
After dragging themselves back into the playoff picture, the Pelicans have now lost four in a row to fall back out of it again.

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26. Orlando Magic (22-28)| Last week’s rank: 26
Even Scott Skiles hasn’t been enough to overcome the offensive woes for the Magic.

27. Milwaukee Bucks (20-32)| Last week’s rank: 24
Milwaukee is expected to be active as a seller to try to shake things up before the trade deadline.

28. Brooklyn Nets (13-39) | Last week’s rank: 28
The Nets blew a big chance at back-to-back wins with a loss Saturday in Philadelphia.

29. Los Angeles Lakers (11-42) | Last week’s rank: 30
Is there any way that Byron Scott will be back on the sidelines with this team next year?

30. Phoenix Suns (14-38) | Last week’s rank: 29
Predictably, the Suns haven’t seen their problems go away after firing Jeff Hornacek.

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If you thought the author was going to miss a chance to highlight Sunday’s game-winning shot by Jaylen Adams for his alma mater, think again.

Find more NBA stories, the chat, podcast and previous power rankings by Tim Bontemps here.

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