It’s one of the most painful moments in basketball. Your favorite player is fouled—they have an easy opportunity to make 2 points—but they miss the free throws.
In fact, it’s kind of astonishing that even professional players who make millions of dollars a year to perfect this craft still only make 75% of free throws. But a lot are actually much worse. Shaquille O’Neal’s was around 50%, a percentage so abysmal it resulted in the now infamous Hack-a-Shaq play.
And it’s not just Shaq. Some of the most dominant centers of this generation have the same problem. Both Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan are hovering around the 40% mark this season. Last year, Jordan made only 39 of the 84 free throws he took during the playoffs.
It’s gotten to the point where fans suggest that they shoot free throws underhand, granny-style—which no one has done for fear of getting mocked in the locker rooms post-game.
It’s clear that you can be a good basketball player and be terrible at free throws. But as it turns out, you can be a totally normal guy and be great at free throws. A lot of people are surprised to find out that the reigning champion for consecutive free throws is not an NBA player, in fact—it’s a dairy farmer. Free throw ability just all boils down to process.