The impact of Andre Drummond’s improved free throw shooting

Andre Drummond is more comfortable at the free throw line than ever before. If he keeps this up, the Detroit Pistons can take another step forward.

Andre Drummond hasn’t missed a free throw in the Detroit Pistons 2017-18 season.

Yes, you read that correctly.

While Drummond has averaged 12.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, the most telling stat is his percentage at the line. How about a perfect 100 in that category?

The Detroit Pistons’ big man has shot six free throws in the first three games. All of which have gone in. But it’s how they’ve gone in that has everybody buzzing.

Form-fitting

Drummond’s form has noticeably improved. His new technique is a bit awkward since he stands at 6’11”. But so far, so good. It’s worked flawlessly.

He starts with his knees bent in a lower position. This allows his entire body to rise in one motion. In doing so, his follow through produces much more power. It also gives his shot a higher arc.

Compare Drummond’s shooting motion in the two videos below. The first is from Troy Haliburton of Truth About It, prior to last Friday’s contest against the Washington Wizards.

This next example is from a game against the Phoenix Suns in December 2015. Pay specific attention to how he begins his shot, and where the ball is located.

While Drummond made both of them, neither went in cleanly. Here’s why.

Drummond is standing straight up throughout his shooting motion. That means all of the power is coming from his arms, as opposed to coming from his lower body. Drummond is basically pushing the ball out of his hands.

Occasionally, you can get away with this as a shooter. A lucky bounce here or there will mask poor form. But it won’t work over the course of an 82-game season. Pistons fans know that all too well.

Just look at the difference in Haliburton’s video. Drummond starts out in a triple threat position. He then elevates his body in a single motion, and releases his shot at the apex of his ascent. The result is better rotation on the basketball.

Hack-A-Who?

One of the bigger criticisms of Drummond is that his struggles at the line make him a liability – particularly in late game situations. The Hack-A-Dre strategy has been used by a handful teams over the years.

For those not familiar, this occurs when opponents intentionally foul poor free throw shooters. The reasoning behind this strategy is that the team on defense can get the ball back quicker. In turn, it also prevents the opposition from running their offense.

Most of these fouls are away from the ball. Since play is constantly stopped, this technique interrupts the flow of the game. The NBA even announced rule changes shortly before the 2016-17 season. Away-from-the-play fouls are now prohibited in the final two minutes of each quarter.

But this doesn’t entirely stop teams from resorting to the Hack-A-Dre mentality. That’s why Stan Van Gundy usually sits Drummond for a portion of the fourth quarter, especially when the game is close.

Bottom line

All of this changes if Drummond can continue to make his free throws. He isn’t going to be perfect, and he doesn’t have to be. As long as his free throw percentage is respectable (over 60 percent in his case), teams will refrain from intentionally fouling him.

If that happens, then the Detroit Pistons have the luxury of playing him at any time. Van Gundy won’t need to bench him during a crucial stretch.

This could pay dividends for Detroit, since Drummond is vital to their pick and roll attack. His ability to rebound and extend possessions cannot be understated.

The Pistons are at their absolute best when Drummond is on the floor. If he remains a threat at the line, Detroit could take another step forward.

 

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