Why can’t Dwight Howard make his free throws? If I could answer that, I probably wouldn’t be typing this post right now – and if I was, it’d likely be from a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.
Multiple superstar players have struggled with their foul shooting over the years: from Shaquille O’Neal in recent times, all the way back to the now myth-like Wilt Chamberlain, they’ve all be lousy shooters at the stripe.
The funny thing, though, is that most of them make an average percentage of their free throws during practice.
Phil Jackson recently discussed this on Twitter when making his point as to why the Hack-A-Player strategy should be banished from the NBA – he claims that almost every poor shooter at the free throw line that he’s known has made 80% or more of their foul shots while at practice.
“It’s the game pressure that ruins ‘em,” Phil writes.
This is true with Dwight Howard, too, who made 82% of his free throws in practice this year. Not bad at all.
So, where does it all go wrong for D12? In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dwight revealed that he thinks the problem is all in his head, and he’s even consulted a Lakers’ psychiatrist in search of answers:
[pullquote]He declined Kelzer’s offer to help with his shooting technique, saying he will not change the way he shoots free throws this off-season. He’ll just shoot more of them.
“I have only one problem and it’s between my ears,” he said, while admitting he visited a Lakers’ psychiatrist. “I just think too much.”[/pullquote]
If Howard is knocking down 80% or better of his foul shots in practice, the reason he misses them in a live-game situation just has to be down to something in his head. Maybe it’s the crowd watching every motion as he shoots the ball, maybe it’s the magnitude of the moment, or it possibly could just be Howard over-thinking.
Whatever it is, Howard’s free throw shooting woes probably won’t drastically improve at this point in his career. It didn’t get better for Wilt, it didn’t get better for Shaq, and it probably won’t get better for Dwight.
But hey, there’s no harm in trying…