Note to DeAndre Jordan: Don’t step away from the free throw line

DeAndre Jordan reacts after missing free throw

I’m not sure what DeAndre Jordan’s free-throw coach is telling him, but I can’t see a reason why after he makes a free throw, he steps away from the free throw line.

It’s well-known that Jordan has a hard time hitting free throws. Last night in their playoff match with the San Antonio Spurs, DeAndre missed 11 of 17 free throws. The Spurs intentionally fouled Jordan so as to put the big man on the free throw line. Clearly, he didn’t give the Spurs reason to stop putting him there; at one point missing seven consecitive attempts.

The Spurs would go on to pull out the win 111-107 in overtime taking home-court advantage away from the Clippers.

A Little Thing Among A Lot of Big Things

There’s a lot going on with DeAndre’s free throw game; when you convert only 39% of 471 free throws during the regular season, it’s just not a shooting form issue.

Notoriously bad NBA free-throw shooter generally hovers around the 47-53%, you know players that are infamous for their free-throw shooting: Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain all fell within that range. DeAndre’s career percentage is at 41.7% (I usually round up, but leaving the decimal felt unfair), so his problems are much larger.

Deandre Jordan rests free throws

Like many other centers, Jordan has large hands that make it difficult to get a feel for shooting a basketball. He has an really aggressive approach to the game that doesn’t lend itself to a soft touch or feathery feel (think rim-rocking dunks and spiking opponents’ shots out of bounds). Clearly, he has confidence issues which will impact his ability to control his nerves and concentrate.

Those are much larger issues that need to be worked on and sussed out over years, but there’s one simple rule that Jordan can easily follow that could significantly improve his free-throw shooting: One that can potentially bring him up to the respectable free-throw levels of Andris Biedrins and Chris Dudley:

When you make your first free throw, don’t move. Stay at the line. Don’t step away from the free throw line.

If you successfully convert your first free, wouldn’t you want to replicate it again EXACTLY? If so, doesn’t it make more sense to stay put? If you don’t step away from the free throw line, your feet are EXACTLY as they were during the first free throw and you can mimic the same form you just had success with.

I can’t promise you success, but at least you’re not starting from zero.

Apparently, this isn’t a point of emphasis for whomever is teaching DeAndre Jordan to shoot free throws. The few times that he converted the first free throw last night, he walked away from the line. Maybe he was elated or wanted to give high-fives, but his stepping away from the free throw line after making a free throw compounds an already problematic situation.

In last night’s game, Jordan hit the front end of his free throws and would walk away from the line. It boggled my mind; I pointed at the television with my hand and yelled “Don’t walk away!”

Last night wasn’t an anomaly. I’ve seen the Hack-A-DeAndre strategy in the past and when the 7-0 Jordan would hit the first free throw, he would step away from the line… only to come back to line up his feet again to shoot the second.

Whether Jordan is successful in his second attempts when he steps away isn’t really what matters, it comes down to paying attention to the details and best practices that can increase ones chances of being successful. DeAdnre isn’t doing himself any favors when he walks away after a rare free throw make.

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