- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Dwight Howard can’t shoot free throws. He has been successful at hurling the ball through the hoop from the line on only 46 percent of his attempts this season. Howard almost had a better chance at winning Powerball than he does of making a free throw.
Luckily, advice is similar to throws in that it is free. Here are some tips for Howard that might help him break into the magical world of 50-plus percent from the line.
Don’t be so literal
You’re not supposed to actually throw the ball at the basket when shooting a free throw. Put some arc on it. Use some touch. It’s really not your fault that no one explained this to you before. No shame there.
This is how they used to do it in olden times and physics says the chances of making a free throw rise dramatically when shot underhand. Granted, you will be mocked mercilessly for shooting free throws “granny style,” but you’re being mocked now. At least get laughed at with a scoring average that’s five or six points per game higher.
Have your teammates guard you
You shoot 59 percent when people are guarding you and 46 percent when no one is guarding you. Apparently free throws are not challenging enough for you. Have Pau Gasol stand behind you and try to block your free throws. It might improve your percentage and it will also allow Gasol to contribute to the team in some way and maybe raise his trade value.
Miss on purpose
You know how sometimes when a team is trailing late in a game, a player tries to miss a free throw on purpose in hopes of getting the rebound and scoring a field goal? You should take this mindset every time you’re at the line. Basic statistical odds say you’re going to brick the shot, so run in there right after the ball leaves your hand and dunk it back. And if you consciously try to miss shots, chances are you’ll make a lot by accident with your accuracy. Either way you can’t go wrong with this approach.
Stop getting fouled
In case you haven’t noticed, you really stink at shooting free throws. Yet you keep shooting them. Why? If you have a terrible singing voice, you shouldn’t try out for "American Idol" unless you want to get mocked. The same principle applies here. From now on when you are fouled, just pass on the shots. “You know what? I’m good. They’re not really my thing.” The other team will still rack up personal fouls and you’ll save yourself a lot of embarrassment.
This is something said to people who are bad at things all the time, so it must work. Also: practice makes perfect.
Just dunk from the free throw line
Wilt Chamberlain couldn’t shoot free throws, either, so he started jumping from the foul line to dunk his free throws. Unfortunately for you, that practice was then banned. Yet doing it would still be awesome. Instead of getting booed for going 0-for-2 from the line, why not go 0-for-2 from the line and bring the house down?
Be awesome at everything else
Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal were centers who couldn’t shoot free throws. Yet they are remembered as two of the greatest centers in basketball history. Chris Dudley was also a center who couldn’t shoot free throws. He is remembered as a center who couldn’t shoot free throws. Be Wilt and Shaq. Don’t be a Dudley. Never be a Dudley.