Blogtable: No more Hack-A-Shaq?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Cavs in trouble? | Next moves for OKC’s next coach? | No more Hack-a-Shaq?



VIDEOShould the hack-a-player rules be changed?

> Lots of chatter recently about the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. Is sending a weak free-throw shooter to the foul line a sound tactic or a tired tactic, and should the league do anything about it?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI suppose the league could extend the time during which fouls off the ball mean two free throws and possession. To be transparent, I haven’t covered one of these in a long time, and sitting through a bad foul shooter’s repeated misses, with all the stoppages of play, is tougher in an arena than watching from home. But free throws are part of the game – Lord knows, that’s about all the media ever gets to see at the end of practice, guys shooting countless free throws – and everyone from the littlest to the biggest players need to perform in those moments. The status quo doesn’t bother me.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I’m fed up, sick and tired of the complaining by so-called professionals who have not been able to become at least proficient in a fundamental part of the game. When Tiago Splitter was a rookie he was a 54 percent free throw shooter and in the 2012 playoffs, the Thunder fouled him intentionally and effectively turned around the Western Conference finals. Splitter’s answer? He went into the gym and worked. Now he shoots free throws at a 70 percent clip and isn’t being hacked all of the time.  If we’re going to change the rules and bail out DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and every other foul-line rim-bender, I also propose that every player under 6-foot-3 should be allowed to jump on the back of a 7-footer on the opposing team to make a layup or dunk. It’s just not fair that the basket is so high!  Commissioner Adam Silver should stop listening to the brick-laying crybabies and back away from this one. Just make your damn free throws.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: It’s tired, but it is a tactic. It’s the basketball equivalent of walking the No. 8 hitter to get to the pitcher. That’s not fun either, but it’s strategy. Same think with the Haq. I don’t think the league does anything dramatic. Maybe tweaks it, but it’s not like there is a great outcry from coaches and general managers to alter the rule. The drumbeat for change is mostly from the outside.

Shaun Powell, NBA.comI’ve never seen a situation where intentionally fouling a bad free throw shooter absolutely helped a team win a game by itself. Maybe it contributed along the way. I do know the NBA shouldn’t discourage these acts by putting a rule in place. Why create a rule that just affects a half-dozen players, if that? Makes no sense. And a rule would only discourage players from practicing harder. Adam Silver said he hates the way it looks on TV. But that alone isn’t enough to push for change.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: That somebody who gets paid millions of dollars to play basketball can’t make half his free throws seems ridiculous to me, so I have no sympathy for the player and team being hacked. But I also don’t think it’s that great a strategy from the hacking team’s standpoint. While a 0.9 points per possession return (from a 45-percent free throw shooter) is certainly less than the 1.1 return on a typical opponent possession, they will rebound some of those second misses, and their defense being allowed to set up after a free throw will diminish your own offense a bit. The only great time to do it is at the end of the quarter to get a free possession for your own team.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: It’s tired, but when executed properly a very effective tool. I understand the desire of many to legislate the hack-a-whoever out of the game, but I think that’s a total cop out. Put the onus on the players and teams to make sure guys work on and improve their free throw shooting. Guys find ways to gain weight, lose wait, work on their quickness, improve their jump shot, handle, post moves and ability to shoot from distance. Why can’t the same emphasis be placed on free throw shooting? Seriously, it’s 2015 … make the players accountable this time.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: Change nothing. This is a self-correcting mechanism. Don’t enable bad free throw shooting – instead allow Hack-a-Shaq to shame players into learning one of the game’s basic skills.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogOh man, I get irrationally angry about this. There’s one thing and one thing only that the NBA should do about this: Nothing. Nothing at all. If DeAndre Jordan or Rajon Rondo or whomever can’t shoot free throws, maybe they should work on their free throws! The idea that we should change some rules to make the game easier for players who have a fundamental weakness really bothers me. Did they change the free throw rules shooting for Wilt Chamberlain? Shaquille O’Neal (for whom this strategy is named)? Why change them now, because it makes the game less fun to watch? To me it’s ridiculous to even consider it. If you want the game to be more visually pleasing, get Jordan in the gym, don’t change the rules.

32 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    I’m sure if teams stopped fouling poor free-throw shooters, then those same players would stop finishing alley oops.

  2. Mike says:

    Stephen Curry shouldn’t be allowed to shoot 3 pointers because he’s really good at them.

  3. Mike says:

    Coaches also shouldn’t be allowed to call timeouts during a pivotal moment of the game to slow their opponents momentum. That’s just not fair… boo hoo.

  4. Mike says:

    It’s also unfair that a taller player can block the shot of a shorter player.

  5. Mike says:

    It’s also unfair when a player has the ball stolen from them because they are disadvtanged by poor ball-handling skills.

  6. Mike says:

    Of course, none of this would be an issue if the league found a way of maximizing the advertising potential during free throws.

  7. Dave says:

    I’m just a casual fan, keep an eye on the best teams throughout the season, then tune in for the playoffs. Hack-a-shaq, is a major turn off for me, missed a couple of the Spurs Clippers games as a result(glad I tuned in for the epic game 7 though!).

    I suppose a question could be, do you want to appeal to new fans or the traditional hard core supporters? I’m not sure if it’s happened in the past, but a game 7 of the NBA finals being decided by that strategy would put me off the NBA for life. I could be wrong but I don’t think the NBA gets particularly good viewing figures, could one of the reasons for that be there are too many fouls in the game before you even include the hack-a-shaq?

    Maybe some compromise could be trialled.

  8. Ian says:

    The main argument against this, “Just learn to shoot free throws,” frustrates me. Obviously players do need to learn to shoot FTs. But this argument seems to be rooted completely in disdain for those players who cannot shoot it. You may have no sympathy for those players, but that does not mean this tactic isn’t bad for the game.

    Why the Hack-a-strat is bad:
    -it is BORING for everyone (not just the fans, but players and, I’m sure, coaches)
    -it flips the idea of fouls and free throws on its head — namely, fouls are supposed to be a punishment, FTs an opportunity
    -it undermines many aspects of the game: rather than discussing eliminating this strat, imagine if we were discussing EXPANDING it, allowing teams to pursue at any point in the game; imagine FT% being THE stat teams recruit on, or games lasting 4+ hours as they exchange FTs
    -finally, it often seems like a cowardly strategy, which angers fans; the team employing it is admitting that their defense is not up to the task, that the foul line is where the opposing team will score the least points

    In Bonus situations, give the team FTs and possession. Hack-a-strat needs to be killed.

  9. Polikarpio says:

    We all know that’s it’s all tactics, but try to imagine if coaches likes to use all his bench players to do hack-a-shack the full 4 qtr, the game will last 4hours watching the new boring nba game.
    Another thing, if lebron james steals the ball and going for an easy dunk, since hack-a-shack is legal, intentionally someone from opposing team will foul another player to make lebron’s dunk void.
    How’s that?

  10. xyz says:

    John Schuhmann just gushed up on one of his stats there. How groce!

  11. sports fan says:

    I say make the bad free-throw shooter go to the line 5 times max & then the team gets to pick someone on the floor to shoot free-throws instead from that point on. This way the bad free-throw shooter still needs to practice because those points are crucial and since he’ll only go to the line 5 times max then the opposing team won’t use this tactic the whole way down the stretch.

  12. Zac says:

    and hey – the rule affects maybe 6 players, but MILLIONS OF FANS!!!

  13. Zac says:

    it is boring as hell. nobdy wants to see free throws, whether made or not.

    they should chance all off-ball-fouls to inbounds and all nonshooting fouls within the last 2 minutes to inbounds too. reduce shot clock in last 2 minutes to 14 seconds, nobody wants to see players stand there for 20 seconds just to make a pick n roll or iso play as time expires.

  14. hellon says:

    Damn,all that crying again?Just practice your FTs and nobody will hack again…

  15. Chris says:

    I agree, nothing should be changed. Adam Silver has to decide if he wants to make this about the good of the game or about making the league an entertainment league

  16. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    I don’t see any problem with it, the out come of the game was not because of it, Shaq made them when it counted, Practice your free throws and be prepared when it happens, improve your game.

  17. Practice Your F Throws! says:

    basketball is a rhythm game. actually most games are based on rhythms. the player (or team) with the best rhythm usually has the higher chance to win the game and the opponents role is to disrupt this rhythm, either by talking trash, playing them physically or fouling their worst free throw shooter.

    I play basketball a lot and maybe an even a worst free throw shooter than DeAndre/Shaq (or whoever Hack-A-Name you put here) so I get fouled a lot during close games. but there are times that the strategy does not work because I was making them consistently and I was on a rhythm. and no I’m not a pro.

  18. European says:

    Don’t step on the court if you can’t make shots in a sportsgame where the purpose is to make shots. Ok?
    How often do you see bench players fouling out btw? Could aswell decrease the amount of fouls bench players can commit. Then make some kind of system to make sure it can’t be abused. So many ways man. But hacking has got to stay!

  19. J4CK Nicholson says:

    Provided the player doesn’t have the ball when fouled:

    1) If opposing team did a Hack-A-Shaq, affected teams should be able to nominate a designated free throw shooter of their choice, OR
    2) Let the fouled player shoot his free throws, plus ball possession to discourage opposing team and force them to play straight up.

  20. J4CK Nicholson says:

    1) If opposing team did a Hack-A-Shaq, affected teams should be able to nominate a designated free throw shooter of their choice, OR
    2) Let the fouled player shoot his free throws, plus ball possession to discourage opposing team and force them to play straight up.

  21. yoel says:

    Whoever is against the Hack-a is definitely NOT against free throws and obviously want professional players to train harder and better in order to make them.
    BUT.
    We are contesting the Hack-a in the way it is set, the way it is called.
    The Hack-a is an INTENTIONAL foul and it is called by the refs only because it is openly delcared by the hacking team.
    Just say that, and we will be happy.
    One free throw and possession for the hacked team. No big changes required.

  22. Alex F says:

    Here is a crazy thought: give 3 free throws for fouls away from the ball.
    That way teams will think twice about fouling in that manner, even a bad free throw shooter. Moreover, it gives those guys a real incentive to get to the gym and upgrade their percentages.
    Guaranteed within 1 to 2 seasons, the practice will disappear almost entirely from the game.
    Win-win for everyone.

  23. kek says:

    So we should put the 3pt line further away? since its unfair that korver, curry and thompsons are such great shooters?

    Learn how to make your damn freethrows and stop with the complaining.

  24. So sad watching the Spurs intentionally fouling!! C’mob Greg you’re better than that….I say shoot one free throw and keep possession of the ball to stop the madness. It’s killing the game, the flow …for both teams and it’s horrible to watch.

  25. It’s so sad watching the Spurs intentionally fouling….I say shoot one free throw and keep possession of the ball to stop the madness. It is so boring for the fans….C’mon Grey you’re better than that!

  26. joe johnson says:

    makeur free s

  27. Rohawk4 says:

    After we eliminate the hack-a-Shaq rule how about we eliminate other rules that punish players that aren’t fundamentally sound such as traveling and double dribbling.

  28. Nicolas says:

    Really? Aren’t these guys paid 10M per year and even more too? I agree with Blinebury in this one. Practice your free throws and shut the hell up.

  29. alex english says:

    YOUR ALL CRAZY. ITS SO BORING. I don’t want to watch the coach play , i want to watch players play.. and when you kill the rhythm.. YOU KILL THE GAME.