NBA alters rule that triggers ‘Hack-a-Drummond’

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Andre Drummond

It’s not the end of “Hack-a-Drummond,” but it’s an improvement.

The NBA Board of Governors on Tuesday approved a new set of rules for next season related to intentional fouls away from the play. One of the changes involves making deliberate fouls away from the ball, with the team being fouled getting one free throw and retaining possession of the ball.

The current rule penalizes teams only in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime periods for intentionally fouling away from the play. The new rule extends to the final two minutes of each quarter and all overtime periods.

The ploy was more famously known as “Hack-a-Shaq” because the strategy was used during the heyday of Shaquille O’Neal, a poor free-throw shooter, to put him on the foul line.

Pistons center Andre Drummond became a more frequent target last season, because of his poor free-throw shooting (a league-worst 36 percent). He was benched in the final minutes of several games late in the season because of his poor free-throw shooting was a liability and teams could take advantage by fouling him intentionally.

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“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,” said Kiki VanDeWeghe, NBA Vice President of Basketball Operations.  “The introduction of these new rules is designed to curb the increase in such fouls without eliminating the strategy entirely.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver had wavered on how to address the issue of intentional fouls, which slowed the game and impacted viewership. Silver said during a visit to Detroit last season that the league was monitoring the impact of the hacking rules — and the result was a compromise from the NBA’s Competition Committee.

The issue reached a crescendo last season on Jan. 20, when the Pistons played the Houston Rockets, who put Drummond on the free-throw line 36 times — and he had an NBA-record 23 misses. During the third quarter, Drummond was intentionally fouled away from the ball five times in nine seconds, stoking the controversy.

The new rule helps the Pistons and Drummond in its extension to the first three quarters, but teams have found loopholes in the last two minutes, including fouling Drummond as the screener in pick-and-roll situations, which still puts him on the free-throw line.

Nothing in the new rules prevents that from happening.

In December, Clippers guard J.J. Redick jumped on Drummond’s back to draw the intentional foul call and send Drummond to the free-throw line. In the new rules, that and other deliberate actions automatically will result in a flagrant foul.

The final interpretation of the new rule is for inbounds situations, when a foul occurs before the ball is released from the inbounder’s hand. Those infractions also will be deemed as the other intentional fouls in the final two minutes and result in a free throw and retaining possession of the ball.

Twitter @detnewsRodBeard