Can the Detroit Pistons fix Andre Drummond’s free throws?

Mar 21, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) warms up before a game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) warms up before a game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Pistons’ center Andre Drummond has had no shortage of issues at the free throw line. Whatever he is doing, it’s not working.  Here’s my attempt at fixing the unfixable.

It’s hard to fix something that has been broken for while, especially, if it’s just getting worse. Andre Drummond is a true throwback NBA big man for the Detroit Pistons. He doesn’t have the shooting capabilities like DeMarcus Cousins. In fact, he shoots very much like you would think a traditional big man would shoot.

From the free throw line, however, he has major issues. Drummond is probably the most inconsistent free throw shooter we’ve ever seen. Honestly, it doesn’t really look like he has changed his approach much in the five years he’s been in a Detroit Pistons jersey.  So how do we fix Drummond’s inconsistencies at the free throw line?

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In Drummond’s rookie season he shot 37.1 percent from the free throw line. In his sophomore season he shot 41.8 percent from the free line making 137 out of 328. Following his second season, it looked like there was hope his free throw success rate might improve, but it dropped to 38.9 percent on 365 free throws. In his fourth season in the NBA, he was the worst in NBA history, shooting free throws when he shot 35.5 percent from the line.

He may have been the worst free throw shooter in the NBA, but he was an All-Star that season. Also, he shot a career high 586 free throws that season. Last summer, Drummond’s main focus in the off-season was to get better at the free throw line. However, this past season, Drummond shot 355 free throws and made 137 for a whopping 38.6 percent.

These stats are the definition of inconsistency, and that’s stating it generously. Drummond needs to change his approach at the free throw line this off-season. What he tried last off-season didn’t help one bit.

Drummond needs to be confident at the line. It literally looks like he has a different kind of shot each time he goes to the line. It’s like he’s trying and thinking too hard.

In a recent mailbag, web editor Keith Langlois filled me on whether or not Drummond’s free throw shooting has any hope of getting better.

Langlois reply:

"“Yes. One or the other, since things rarely remain static in sports. Which way it goes is anyone’s guess. Drummond showed clear signs of promise with his foray into virtual reality technology to boost his free-throw percentage after he shot a career-worst .355 from the line in 2015-16. He hit .439 over the first 57 games going into the All-Star game, but slumped to .266 over the last 25 games. The .439 would have been a career high for a season and the .266, obviously, a career low. (Further, his percentage declined month over month, from .473 in October-November to .438 in December to .379 in January to .377 in February to .278 in March-April. The farther he got from his summer work with virtual tech, the worse his shooting.) One way or another – whether he doubles down on virtual reality or explores another avenue – he’s got to get it back to the .439 days and go north from there. Stan Van Gundy and his staff aren’t going to just ignore the issue over the off-season and hope it resolves itself. They’ll be active in working with Drummond on finding a means to improved foul shooting.”"

To create the perfect shot Drummond needs to act like a shooter, not like the 6’11 280 lbs big man that he is. He has to have a shooters mentality.

He could also model his shot after a good free throw shooter like teammates Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  Confidence is the biggest essential on becoming a good free throw shooter.

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He could also endeavor to create a shooter’s rhythm, not a big man’s rhythm. For example, look at how DeAndre Jordan shoots free throws. There is no rhythm at all. Modeling after high-efficiency free throw shooters can only benefit Drummond.