Over at Hardwood Paroxysm, I wrote about the paradoxical nature of intentional fouls— they tend to engender self-doubt when in reality, they should elicit confidence. When the Houston Rockets take on the Clippers tonight, the unbelievable explosiveness and free throw shooting woes of both DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard will collide.
I’ve inserted an excerpt from the article below. To read the full piece, click here.
One fateful 1997 evening against the Chicago Bulls, Don Nelson gave birth to this strategy when his Mavericks purposefully sent Dennis Rodman to the line six times. Since then, it’s become common NBA folklore that subjection to intentional fouls should engender embarrassment. On first glance, it makes sense: how could a professional basketball player be so bad at shooting flat-footed shots from fifteen feet out that the other team would happily give him that choice? They’re called free throws, after all.
However, when teams implement hack-a-Dwight (or hack-a-DeAndre, or hack-a-Drummond, or what have you), they’re really communicating two things:
1. We don’t think we can win unless your coach benches you, so that’s become our strategy for winning; a strategy we so believe in that we’ll thin out our bench and force ourselves into the bonus for it.
2. We’re so certain we can’t defend your team when you’re on the court, in fact, that we’d rather concede an expected field goal percent of 57.5 percent (Dwight’s free throw percentage). That’s 1.154 points per possession or an offensive efficiency rating of about 115.4— a full five points higher than last year’s league leading Miami Heat.
It’s not a defensive strategy— it’s a defeatist strategy.