On Friday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told USA Today Sports that he is “increasingly of the view” that the league will be looking to make some sort of change to the intentional fouling rule this summer. But Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has since come out in defense of the “hack-a-player” strategy. He says it’s entertaining for fans and that it would be a mistake if the league made changes to the rules. From Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com:
Cuban disagrees with the notion that it is hurting the game’s entertainment value and told ESPN.com on Saturday morning that he believes fans actually feel more part of the game in hack-a-player situations, citing the example of fans getting on their feet to challenge an opposing player at the free throw line.
Cuban also said hacking adds an element of intrigue.
“Will they leave him in or leave him out?” Cuban said. “How do both teams feel about it? How will they foul? Is it a new creative way, or is it just chasing?”
The hack-a-player strategy has been on the rise around the league. As of Friday, according to tracking by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton, there had been 266 hack-a-player instances this season, already far exceeding last season’s total of 164. There were 52 instances through the All-Star break last season, and the NBA has surpassed that total by more than 200 ahead of next week’s All-Star Weekend in Toronto.
The majority of intentional fouls have come against tall, poor free throw shooting big men such as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard.
Jordan, Drummond and Howard rank in the bottom four in free-throw shooting percentage, and all three of them average at least seven free-throw attempts per game. Last month, Drummond set a career high and franchise record by attempting 36 free throws on a night he was intentionally fouled 21 times. He missed 23 free throws, also an NBA record.
So while the league may want to get rid of it, at least one owner is in support of the hack-a-player strategy.