People really want Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond to shoot free throws underhanded. Standing as the worst free-throw shooter in NBA history, trying to find a new and improved way of shooting shots from the charity stripe certainly makes sense. For some reason, we’ve collectively decided that going to an underhanded free throw motion, much like Rick Barry used to shoot, is the way to cure what ails Drummond at the line.
However, Drummond is still resisting the underhand free throw suggestion. As he works on his game this summer, Drummond doesn’t appear to be headed toward that dramatic of a change in his shooting motion to become even a decent free-throw shooter. According to Don Amore of the Hartford Courant, the Pistons’ center is going to stick with his own formula right now as he seeks improvement.
Drummond continues to work on free throws, along with his footwork, though he dismisses any suggestion he should try shooting them underhand.
“I’m just really just continuing to work on back-to-the-basket stuff,” he said, “and working on getting better from the foul line. I’m going to stick with the formula I have now.”
Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy alluded to Drummond having an improvement next season at the free-throw line. After hitting a career-low 35.5 percent on a career-high 568 attempts at the line last season, Drummond headed into this offseason with this needing to be his biggest improvement. Even just becoming a 50 percent free-throw shooter at the line means the math of the hack-a strategy becoming almost a wash if Drummond could hit one out of every two attempts on average. You’ll take one point per possession in those situations.
Anything above that becomes icing on the cake. With the rules being altered to help eliminate more of the hack-a situations this coming season, he should already be in a better place with this stuff, but it doesn’t mean Drummond is going to be absolved of shooting free throws. He’ll still have to shoot quite a few of them and will undoubtedly get fouled when he has the ball in an advantageous position inside to avoid the ensuing dunk.
I’m also not sure why we assume the underhand approach is going to fix Drummond. For most NBA big men who struggle at the line, the trip to the line ends up being a mental thing. Guys like DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Drummond can shoot 70-80 percent from the line in practice, but the games are a different form of pressure. It essentially creates the yips for them and they start clanking or air-balling free throws in the process. So why would they change to underhand and expect that mental glitch to magically go away?
Rick Barry is always the example. He shot underhand free throws and has the fourth-highest free-throw percentage (89.9) in NBA history. Barry also had an incredible scoring touch that Drummond simply doesn’t possess. It’s more likely that his scoring touch coupled with the underhand free throw motion are more connected than Drummond’s issues and not shooting underhanded. If Barry wasn’t such a great scorer and shot like 78 percent for his career from the free-throw line, would we immediately jump to this and say free throw shooters are worried about looking bad over making free throws?
We’ll have to wait and see if Drummond’s new formula translates to games. If it doesn’t, we’ll implore him to shoot a motion that may not be comfortable for him. But it worked in the 70’s.
Courtesy: CBS Sports