The NBA heard the outcry over the ugliness bestowed upon the league thanks to the “Hack-a-Shaq” rule and they’re finally doing something about it.
Per reports, the league has issued a rule change to clean up the fouling of poor free throw shooters simply to get them to the line. The act has ruined numerous games simply so the opposition could put awful free throw shooters like DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard on the line, rather than allow their respective teams to advance the ball and try to score naturally.
It won’t be so easy to do that anymore.
NBA Approves Hack-a-Shaq Rule Changes https://t.co/iKOEF8Spr4
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) July 13, 2016
The new rule applies change to “away from play fouls”, making them applicable for the final two minutes of all four periods, rather than just the end of the fourth quarter and overtime, like before. This means that any team trying to take advantage of a poor free throw shooter will now have to do it a little more strategically, as doing so in an unapproved area of the game will result in one free throw and the ball back for the team that doesn’t commit the infraction.
NBA Executive Vice President Kiki VanDeWeghe suggested the rule change is being enforced to hopefully discourage the extra fouling simply because a player’s poor free throw shooting percentages:
“In looking at the data and numerous potential solutions to combat the large increase in deliberate away-from-the-play foul situations, we believe these steps offer the most measured approach. The introduction of these new rules is designed to curb the increase in such fouls without eliminating the strategy entirely.”
Bad For the Game?
This new rule change could be looked at two different ways. On one hand, it does clean up the game a bit, as those long stretches to close out quarters will include far less bad free throw shooting. This rule also allows star big men (or any star players who struggle at the charity stripe) to stay on the court to close out each period.
Of course, it’s also possibly this can be seen as a negative. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban certainly feels that way, as he’s long been against aiding poor free throw shooters for a skill they either refuse to or are unable to improve.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 13, 2016
Cuban has a point, too. With this rule change, the league is adapting to a poor skill-set for just a select group of stars. The fact that Howard, Drummond and others can’t capitalize on being fouled is on them, but here the league is actually helping them out.
There is no denying the ugliness of the act – as fouling bad free throw shooters not only is bad for the flow of the game, but it’s just a pain to watch. Still, the new rule changes don’t necessarily help the game, but more so the actual players who struggle with such a simple aspect of basketball.
NBA Betting Impact
On the surface, this new Hack-a-Shaq rule change doesn’t impact the game or NBA betting too much, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. For one, all of these players that struggle at the line will now have no qualms about playing to close out every quarter, as they know during the final two minutes that a foul away from play against them will end with a free throw shot and the ball back.
This could lead to teams using more poor free throw shooters on the court that help them in other ways. With the fear of auto-fouls due to their inability to hit freebies now gone, teams can set up lineups however they like and not worry about their poor percentages from the line.
Of course, it can work the other way, too. Teams could forget about the new rule and this could put teams in some bad spots to close out quarters.
The good news is that the Hack-a-Shaq strategy isn’t completely eliminated. It just won’t be in existence so much to close out quarters and games.
Hopefully this new rule change could open eyes to a completely different rule, one in which allows teams to commit a foul late in a game when a team is down by three or more, preventing them from shooting three’s, and instead forcing them to take just two free throws. That may be another rule battle for another day. For now, the poor free throw shooters of the NBA get a minor break and their impact may be felt a little more over the course of the game. It shouldn’t dramatically impact how games unfold, but it will be interesting the second it does.