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NBA wants to get rid of Hack-A-Shaq fouls, I just want the Utah Jazz to make more free throws - Downbeat #1952

The Lakers will be bad, the NBA wants to change the rules, finally some recognition . . . and which five guys end the game for Quin Snyder this season?

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz are making the news right now. From long over-due recognition to actual media attention. Also, we take a look at a new rule change, how camera ready our club is, and make fun of the LA Lakers. Because, why not, right? Also . . . diagram your end of game play for the Utah Jazz! (Put on your Quin Snyder hats and get to work!)


Long-time Utah Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson was selected as the winner of the Tex Winter Lifetime Impact Assistant Coach Award.

Johnson was the lead assistant of the Utah Jazz under both Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan. He held that job for longer than Dante Exum has been alive. His loyalty to both the Jazz brass, the Miller Family, and to Sloan himself really helped stabilize many transition periods for this franchise. As a former NBA Coach of the Year winner it's clear that he did not HAVE to stay in the #2 seat, as there were plenty of teams that would have given him the clipboard and let Johnson run things.

He didn't want that. And when Jerry Sloan rode off into the sunset, Phil was right there by his side. (The one time it didn't happen that way was when Sloan was fired from the Chicago Bulls, and Phil was still there to be the interim head coach for one game.) The very special thing to me is that Phil Johnson is a primary and secondary branch of the Epic but never talked about Dick Motta coaching tree.

DB 1951 Phil Johnson Dick Motta

Yes. Pre-soup strainer.

As an NBA head coach, Phil Johnson carries with him a 236-307 record (.435) which is about what you're going to get as the head coach of the Kansas City - Omaha Kings / Kansas City Kings / Chicago Bulls, and Sacramento Kings. (Lots of turmoil in those days.) Even with all of the crazy, he still managed to coach a team to the NBA Playoffs twice.

Phil Johnson is, in my mind, the best Assistant coach ever. His ego or his self-awareness allowed him to thrive in a secondary position. Sometimes it's hard for people to know if their abilities are equal to their ambitions. Tyrone Corbin, one of the best assistant coaches, is a solid reference point. He succeeded both Sloan and Johnson and managed a .416 coaching record in five seasons. I don't think anyone feels like Corbin is a bad assistant coach.

Perhaps Gail Miller should have said "standing on Phil's shoulders" instead of Jerry, all those years ago?

Oh well.

Phil Johnson really deserves this recognition, and I'm happy that the NBA is finally coming to their senses. This award should be named after him, not just given to him.



Hack-a-Shaq. The "Hack-a" strategy, like all strategies, uses deft knowledge of the other team and their weaknesses against them. It is a tactic where a poor free throw shooter is deliberately sent to the free throw line in order to gain a possession advantage against teams that do rely upon big minutes from bad shooters. It's like kicking the ball high and in the top corner at a bad goal keeper. Or hitting the ball into right left field if you are trying to get a player to go from second third to home. It's part of the game.

You can sign a taller goal-keeper who is more agile. You can work on your fielding and arm strength as a left fielder. Or, you know, you can avoid the "Hack-a" strategy by working on your free throws. (After all, the rules aren't changed in the NBA if a team needs a three and has no good three point shooters, and the defense lets you shoot from outside all game long.)

Well, the rules are being changed to de-incentivize the "Hack-a" strategy . . . at least, the rules where a player WITHOUT the ball is targeted as someone the defending team wants to foul.

Rules Changes Relating to Deliberate Away-From-The-Play Foul Rules:

  • The current rule for away-from-the-play fouls applicable to the last two minutes of the fourth period (and last two minutes of any overtime) -- pursuant to which the fouled team is awarded one free throw and retains possession of the ball -- will be extended to the last two minutes of each period.
  • For inbounds situations, a defensive foul at any point during the game that occurs before the ball is released by the inbounder (including a "legitimate" or "natural" basketball action such as a defender fighting through a screen) will be administered in the same fashion as an away-from-the-play foul committed during the last two minutes of any period (i.e., one free throw and possession of the ball).
  • The flagrant foul rules will be used to protect against any dangerous or excessively hard deliberate fouls. In particular, it will presumptively be considered a flagrant foul if a player jumps on an opponent's back to commit a deliberate foul. Previously, these type of fouls were subject to being called flagrant but were not automatic.

- The NBA, 2016

Now, I get it. If you are worried about just how nice the game is to watch then you don't like it. But this fix seems to be backwards to me. Implore your bad foul shooters to work on their free throws -- don't hurt the teams that are using your weaknesses to your advantage. Work on your OWN weaknesses.

That's really my take on it. Make your free throws. We all start playing the game in an organized way trying to make that 15' shoot. If 8 year old girls can do it, so should guys like DeAndre Jordan or, dare I say it, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. Don't change the rules because you don't like the result of teams planning around the existing rules. The NBA did that a while back when they didn't like how GOOD the Utah Jazz were at using the then illegal defense rules in the 1980s and 1990s.

Don't nerf solid strategy. Just make your dag free throws.



Okay, so the Utah Jazz are down by two, at home, with 12 seconds left to play. Everyone is presumed healthy and no one fouled out. Your opponents have two good wing defenders and a big who can switch out on pick and rolls and cover a ball handler.

Which five players are on the court, and what's the play design like?

For me . . . clearly, you have to go with George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, and Rudy Gobert.

  • I want Joe Johnson in-bounding the ball (with 12 seconds left? sure).
  • And I want Gobert to set a screen on Hayward's man, allowing Gordon to get the ball up beyond the three point line.
  • After a delay I want Hill to set a screen on Gobert's man as he rolls to the rim while Hayward and Johnson play pick and roll.
  • Hill then retreats to the opposite corner where all the action is taking place, while Hood curls around the perimeter as an option if nothing is available for Hayward or Johnson.
  • Ideally something is there with Gobert unassailled in the paint to clean anything up.

Go for the two, not the three. Actually, I should just diagram this one out...

(Image to be uploaded asap)

Here it is!



Alec Burks photobomb? Sure.

I don't think Rudy Gobert minds, these two seem to get along. But Alec has a long way to go if he's going to reach that Chris Bosh level.

I do love the concept of this team being really really close. That's why I'm happy none of the "core" guys were moved this off-season (so far) beyond Trey Burke . (His teammates liked him a whole lot more than the fans did.) Bosh points out that "being on a team that's always wins is really fun." I think our team is poised for that this 2016-2017 season.



Man, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to be bad.

Of course, I said this when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired (1989), but they rebuilt and ended up winning their next title before the Jazz won their first. And then I said it when Magic Johnson retired the first time (1991), but they rebuilt and ended up winning their next title before the Jazz won their first. And then I said it again after Shaquille O'Neal was traded (2004), but they rebuilt and ended up winning their next title before the Jazz won their first. And now I'm saying it again now that Kobe Bryant has hung them up (2016). Hopefully the cycle gets broken this time.