I really wonder what DeAndre Jordan’s free-throw coach emphasizes during their sessions. Whether miss or make (usually miss), Jordan has a really bad habit of leaving the free throw line.
It’s no secret that Jordan is strugglinh to hit free throws — that’s especially not lost on Greg Popovich. In their loss to the Spurs on Wednesday night, DeAndre missed 11 of 17 free throws as the Spurs continually sent Jordan to the free throw line daring him to hit a couple free throws.
Clearly, Jordan wasn’t convincing even after nailing his first two free throws. After that? He clanked seven straight free throw attempts. San Antonio would go on to squeak out a 111-107 victory; a game that went into overtime.
A Small Issue Among A Lot of Big Problems
There’s too much going on with DeAndre’s free throw game for us to diagnose in a short blog post. When you shoot 471 free throws during the regular season and hit only 39% of them, it’s no longer about bending your knees, taking a deep breath and following-through.
Notoriously bad NBA free-throw shooter hover at 47-53% range, players like Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain all fell within that range. DeAndre’s career percentage isn’t even sniffing 47%. At 41.7% for his career, he could only hope to be Shaquille O’Neal one day.
When it comes to being a professional basketball player, you have to put the ball in the hoop. Jordan has no problem dunking the ball, but when you can’t be counted on to hit a free throw even 50% of the time then nothing is off the table and no detail is too small.
I can’t speak to Jordan’s free throw mechanics, but there’s a simple rule that Jordan can easily apply that could potentially improve his free-throw shooting a few percentage points.
When making your first free throw, please don’t step away from the free throw line.
If you make your first free throw, stay put. Don’t move your feet, think about how you released the ball on your first attempt, and don’t take your eyes off the rim… basically, don’t change anything! You want to do it again don’t you?
Instead, Jordan steps away from the line when he makes his free throws. For what reason, I can’t begin to tell you. I can tell you with confidence that he isn’t thinking about what made him successful or about his free throw mechnics. It’s like he’s running away from the line as fast as he can. His walking away from the charity stripe after making a free throw addes to an already problematic situation with many levels.
Why make it harder on yourself? When you shoot 39% from the free throw line and you’ve been playing basketball for the majority of your life, then you don’t get to do what you think works. You follow the best practices and pay attention to the details so to increase your window to being successful.
So take a deep breath, look at the rim, dribble the ball a couple times, bend your knees, and follow through. If you make the first free throw… don’t step away from the free throw line and do what you just did again, exactly.