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This simple rule change will end the intentional fouling epidemic in the NBA

There's an easy way to prevent the ridiculous situation that happened in Houston on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday, the Rockets intentionally fouled Andre Drummond 12 times in a row to start the third quarter. This included intentionally putting the Pistons into the bonus using an end-of-the-bench player for the first five fouls. This is not basketball. While intentional fouling is only an effective strategy against a few players, it's becoming a more pervasive tactic and its negative impact on the watchability of the game is outsized.

The NBA really needs to fix this.

I have lobbed this idea before, but I wanted to offer a brief, concise reference. A TL; DR version, if you will. If you'd like an explanation as to why all the arguments against changing the rule are bad, see my column from last May. This is a strict explanation of the rule change I'd propose.


HOW NON-SHOOTING FOULS ARE TREATED IN THE BONUS. If a team is in the bonus and there is a non-shooting foul committed against them, the team can elect to shoot two free throws OR inbound the ball on the side with the shot clock starting at the higher of 14 seconds or the time on the shot clock when the foul was committed. This change would end most off-ball intentional fouling.


HOW NON-SHOOTING FOULS ARE TREATED WHEN TEAMS ARE NOT IN THE BONUS. If a team is not the bonus, non-shooting fouls result in a sideline inbounds. If a player is fouled intentionally before his team is in the bonus, the ball is inbounded from the side (unless it's a clear path foul or a flagrant). There is no change to the rules when teams are not in the bonus.

HOW SHOOTING FOULS ARE TREATED IN THE BONUS: If it's a shooting foul, it's free throws. Always.

HOW THE LAST TWO MINUTES WORK: Currently, in the last two minutes of a quarter, if a player is intentionally fouled away from the ball, the team is awarded two free throws and the ball. Keep this rule to prevent end-game intentional fouling.

HOW ON-BALL NON-SHOOTING FOULS IN END-GAME SITUATIONS WORK: A major concern with the rule change proposed above is how it would impact the tactic of fouling late when up two. It would certainty affect the calculus that goes into fouling and choosing free throws or the inbounds. But I propose no immediate rule changes to influence that. If a player with the ball is fouled intentionally, his team will choose free throws or an inbounds per usual.

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Please note that while I understand you believe you'd hit 90 percent of your free throws if you got paid millions of dollars to play basketball, I don't actually care.