[credit provider=”Stephen Dunn/Getty Images”]
The “Hack-A-Dwight” strategy of fouling Dwight Howard on purpose in crunch time is picking up steam.Last night in Houston, the Rockets fouled Dwight five times in a 68-second span with three minutes left. Howard made 50% of his free throws in that span (5/10), and LA ended up losing 107-105.
The strategy worked, and now the entire league is going to copy it.
Here’s the good news for the Lakers: If Dwight just made a couple more free throws, Hack-A-Dwight would totally disappear.
It’s simple maths.
The Lakers score 1.06 points per possession on average. Since Dwight shoots 47% from the free throw line, the expected points per possession when opposing teams hack him is 0.94 points. So right now Hack-A-Dwight is totally rational.
But if Dwight raised his free throw percentage to just 54%, the expected points per possession when he gets fouled would be 1.08 points. All he has to do is shoot 54% for the opposing team to be better off trying to play defence than fouling him.
But he’s not shooting 54% right now. In the clutch — the last five minutes of games within five points — Dwight shoots a dismal 44%, according to NBA.com.
As you can see from this NBA.com chart, Dwight gets to the free throw line more than twice as often normal in the clutch because he’s getting hacked on purpose:
[credit provider=”NBA.com/Stats” url=”http://www.nba.com/advancedstats/player.html#Dwight-Howard%7C2730;year=201213;season=r;splitType=clutch;splitValue=all”]
It’s a real problem, but it’s not unsolvable. Dwight has shot better than 58% from the line in seven of his nine NBA seasons.
The Lakers seem hopeful that his poor shooting will return to a hack-proof percentage at some point.
Mike D’Antoni said there’s no way in heck they’d bench him in the clutch. And Metta World Peace had this to say:
Metta World Peace on Hack-a-Howard: “It’s cool. It’s fun. The crowd is into it. It’s all good.”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 5, 2012
The Lakers aren’t concerned. But Hack-A-Dwight won’t die until he hits that magical 54% number.