Could "Hack-a-Jordan" Strategy Help The Thunder?
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Los Angeles Clippers are one of most powerful offensive teams in the NBA.
LA ranked No. 1 in the NBA in offensive efficiency, a statistic that tracks team's points per 100 possessions. To be exact, the Clippers scored 107.4 points per 100 possessions this season.
In Monday night's blowout, the Clippers scored 122 points in just 96 possessions. Los Angeles drained 15 of 29 3-pointers and shot 55 percent from the floor.
The only stretch where OKC appeared to figure out a way to stop them was when Brooks elected to use the "Hack-a-Jordan" plan, intentionally fouling center DeAndre Jordan in hopes that the poor free-throw shooter would lay some bricks.
And boy did he ever. Jordan hit just one of eight attempts from the line, providing the Clippers with just one total point in those four possessions.
Just for argument's sake, let's say the Thunder implemented this strategy off and on for all 48 minutes, and intentionally fouled Jordan on 33 of those 96 possessions.
It sounds crazy, but really think about it.
It would require the use of all six fouls from Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, but that's okay – those three are outside of the rotation anyway. That's 18 fouls.
Now toss in three intentional fouls apiece for more important players (but not stars) like Derek Fisher, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Steven Adams and Kendrick Perkins. Add these 15 to the previous 18 and you get to 33 "Hack-a-Jordan" scenarios – or approximately one third of the Clippers' possessions.
What's the worst that could happen?
Jordan shot just 43 percent from the line this season and he's shooting 47 percent this postseason. If the Thunder fouled Jordan on 33 occasions and forced him into 66 free throw attempts, what's the most he would make? 40?
Let's say Jordan did make 40 of those 66 free throws, or 61 percent (remember, this is worst-case scenario for OKC). That equates to 1.21 points per possession.
Now compare that to the Clippers' Game-1 performance in possessions that didn't end in Jordan free throws. LA scored 121 points in those 92 possessions, averaging to 1.32 points per.
The difference between 1.21 and 1.32 may seem miniscule, but if you stretch it out over the 33 trips in which the "Hack-a-Jordan" would be used, it's a difference of approximately four points.
That was worst-case scenario. How about a more likely situation, like Jordan shooting around his average?
Let's say he shoots 44 percent. That would involve Jordan hitting 29 of 66 free throw attempts, and it would give Los Angeles just 29 points in those 33 possessions, or 0.87 points per. That number is well below their 1.32 points per possession they recorded in Game 1, and if you stretched these numbers out over the 33 possessions, the difference is a whopping 15 points.
The numbers don't even account for the potential psychological effects of this plan. It could jerk Jordan and his teammates right out of an offensive groove if they head down the court not knowing whether they'll be allowed to run an offense or not.
Obviously the strategy outlined above is a little unrealistic, but it's a fun idea to think about. One playoff game is a small sample size, and the Clippers may come out ice cold in Game 2. And if the Thunder did start intentionally fouling Jordan this often, Doc Rivers would likely pull him from the game and use a smaller lineup.
To reiterate, Brooks won't use the "Hack-a-Jordan" for 48 minutes, but expect him to utilize it at least some.
"It can always help when needed," Brooks said when asked if he'll implement the plan moving forward. "Anytime you have that opportunity…he shot 42 percent for the season."
Game 2 is set for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Hack away.