Saturday, July 17, 2010

Free-throw Shooting

Free-throw shooting should be the easiest way to score in a basketball game. First, you don't have anyone guarding you numbnuts! No one is between you and the hoop. A straight line of sight! And secondly, it's only 15 feet away! Duhh!

However, despite the seemingly easy task, free throw shooting is a bane to many basketball greats. Wilt Chamberlaine is the all-time leader in the missed free-throw category. Mr. Chamberlain, as you basketball fanatics should know, is the only player in the National Basketball League to ever score 100 points in a game! But in all his prolific scoring, “The Stilt” can only manage to convert 46% of the free-throws in his career!

A credible free-throw shooter should at least hit 70% of his attempts. Below that and you’ll likely be the goat during tight games. Hack-a-Shaq was coined due to Shaquille O’Neil’s dismal free-throw shooting. For the 2009-2010 season, Shaq shot 49%. Dwight “Superman” Howard’s kryptonite is free-throw shooting and can only convert 59.2% of his attempts..

Other NBA greats with free-throw problems are: Bill Walton (67.3%), Nate Thurmond (62.1%), Wes Unseld (60.8%), and Bill Russel (60.3%). See any commonality between them? They are all BIG men. So why is this so?

Big men usually post up to get the ball. With their proximity to the basket it’s either they go for the dunk, jump hook, or shoots an 8-foot jumper. Field goal percentage-wise these guys are up there! Now, how does this answer their free-throw woes? Well, it’s simply not on their range and it’s likely that they are not practicing this either. Shag has a free-throw coach but it did not seem to improve his statistics.

European and Asian big men are an exception. Sabonis, Divac, Kirilenko, Nowitski, and Yao Ming---are excellent free-throw shooters. I guess they see the game more clearly than their American counterparts.


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