In Wednesday night's Lakers vs. Rockets game, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni implemented the always unpopular Hack-a-Howard strategy. The usual chorus of boos followed from the Houston fans. Should the NBA put a rule in to put an end to this or is it a viable strategy?
Simply put, there is no need for the NBA to put in a new rule to stop this strategy. These players are paid to play basketball for a living. Making a free throw should not be this difficult for someone that according to HoopsHype is paid over $20 million per season to play the game of basketball.
According to ESPN, Dwight has shot under 60 percent from the free-throw line in every season but his rookie year. Howard has had countless shooting coaches and has all the time in the world to work on the worst aspect of his game, yet he has not improved his free-throw shooting at all.
A coach should be able to step in and make Dwight a better shooter from the free-throw line if he is willing to put in the extra time. If Howard does not put in the time during practice, then he has no one to blame but himself when teams start fouling him intentionally.
Although fans may not enjoy watching the Hack-a-Howard strategy take place, there is no denying that it can be effective. According to Jonathan Feigen, the Houston Rockets beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, Dwight went under 50 percent from the line during the Hack-a-Howard period.
Howard goes 7 of 16 in the hack-a-Dwight portion of our program. And a fine time was had by all.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) January 9, 2014
Here is what coach Mike D'Antoni had to say on the strategy according to Lakers.com beat reporter Mike Trudell after the game.
D'Antoni on the Hack-a-Howard: "It's nothing I like, but you try to win ... It is what it is." Worked in November, not tonight.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 9, 2014
The Hack-a-Howard strategy may not be the prettiest way to win or a fan favorite but, like Coach D'Antoni said, teams try to win the game anyway possible. Lakers guard Nick Young had this to say after the game according to ESPN Los Angeles Lakers beat writer Dave McMenamin.
More Nick Young on Hack-a-Howard: "We can only do that in the 4th quarter, huh? We should do that the whole game ... Hey, we need to win"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 9, 2014
NBA commissioner David Stern implemented a rule that does not allow teams to use the strategy during the last two minutes of the game. According to ESPN TrueHoop writer Henry Abbot, here is what Stern said during an interview with the Fox New Orleans broadcast team during a game in 2012.
We tried to change it to any time in the game because last year I guess it was everyone was fouling Tiago Splitter early on and the committee didn't want to do it. And so that's just the way it is. Because the reality is that there are a lot of basketball purists -- and I understand that point of view -- who say, 'Hey, why don't you learn to shoot foul shots? You're supposed to be a pro.'
If Dwight could just step up to the line and knock down a couple free throws, there would be no reason for the NBA to consider implementing a new rule. It may not be the prettiest basketball to watch, but the NBA should not need to make a rule change just because a few players are horrible from the line.
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