Remember when front court players could shoot free throws?
Let me refresh your mind. Take a look at these legendary big-men and their career percentages from the charity stripe.
George Mikan 78.4 percent
David Robinson 73.6 percent
Mose Malone 76.0 percent
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 72.1 percent
Hakeem Olajuwon 71.2 percent
Patrick Ewing 74.0 percent
Kevin Garnett 78.9 percent (active)
Garnett may be slight in build, but played centre for most of his career. The same goes for Tim Duncan, whose 69.7 percent just missed out on this list of top free throw shooting big-men. Dirk Nowitzki is not on this list because for some reason he is not considered (by NBA insiders) a true centre. This baffles me because he is a legit 7-footer. In fact, he’s taller than Tim Duncan. Oh, by the way, Disco Dirk shoots around 88 percent from the line. Not too shabby!
Now, here’s a couple of NBA big-men Hall of Famers who have the worst free throw percentage in NBA history:
Shaquille O’Neal 52.7 percent
Wilt Chamberlain 51.1 percent
Here is a list of other poor free throw shooting big-men:
Ben Wallace 41.4 percent
Chris Dudley 45.8 percent
Greg Kite 48.6 percent
Dan Gadzuric 49.8 perecent
Adonal Foyle 49.9 percent
Before we head into the “Why” section of this piece, here is a list of some of the better free throw shooting centres in NBA History:
Jack Sikma 84.9 percent
Mike Gminski 84.3 percent
Bill Laimbeer 83.6 percent
Keith Van Horn 83.4 percent
Yao Ming 83.2 percent
Andrea Bargnani 82.4 percent (active)
Christian Laettner 82.0 percent
Kevin Love 81.4 percent (active)
Tom Chambers 80.7 percent
Why have the players in the above list been successful from the line, while some of the other great centres have been among the worst?
It may be a combination of all of the above. Most of these guys worked tirelessly on their free throw shooting, but when the bright lights came on they would revert back to their bad shooting ways. As you saw in the Wilt Chamberlain video above. Chamberlain did adopt the suggestion of Hall of Famer Rick Barry who shot under hand for most of his career.
Rick Barry continues to this day to encourage today’s worst free throw shooters to start shooting underhanded. My hunch is that they will not adopt it for no other reason but it looks weak. It may go against their bravado to use the same mechanics of some weaker young athletes used when they couldn’t shoot over hand. Whatever the reason for it, the bad free throw shooting continues and looks to have no end right now:
To be continued…….