Andre Drummond is a remarkable basketball player. He can finish at the rim, block plenty of shots, and is one of the best rebounders in the game today. While not an all-star starter, he will no doubt be a first-time all-star when the reserves are announced.
For all of his skills on the floor, one thing he can’t do is shoot free-throws. In fact, he is remarkably bad from the charity stripe this season, making just 35.4 percent on 339 attempts.
His struggles from the line hit an all-time low against the Houston Rockets when he converted on just 13 of 36 attempts. His 23 misses in one game established a new NBA record.
After watching highlights (if you can call them that), of the disastrous performance and the lengths the Rockets took to put Drummond on the line, I decided to do an experiment to see how hard it is to miss 23 free-throws in 36 tries.
I set out to see how many different ways I could shoot free-throws and make at least 13 of 36, and came up with six. I thought that would be enough to best me, but I was wrong. What I thought would take half an hour turned into an hour and a half and nearly 650 free-throws.
I started out by shooting just a regular shot and made 32 out of 36.
Next up came the 36 attempts with my right hand. I made 21 after a slow start. Then came 36 more with my eyes closed and I hit 28. Shooting with one foot on the ground wasn’t a problem either. Twenty seven with my right foot on the ground and 32 with my left.
After I made it through the first five rounds, I started to move to shots I didn’t think I would have a chance to even attempt.
On my left foot with my eyes closed: 24 for 36. Right foot, eyes closed: 26 for 36. On my knees: 21 for 36.
By that time, I thought I was getting close to being done. My left arm was getting tired, and I thought I couldn’t make many more with my right hand. To my shock and that of my rebounding brother, most of them weren’t much of a challenge.
Right hand, left foot: 25 for 36.
Right hand, eyes closed: 22 for 36.
Underhand: 18 for 36.
Right hand, right foot: 24 for 36.
After the string of luck that propelled me through 144 more free-throws, we had to come up with even more ways to shoot.
Right hand, left foot, eyes closed: 15-36.
Underhand, eyes closed: 18 for 36.
Right hand, right foot, eyes closed: 20 for 36.
Then it was back to kneeling where I converted on 18 of 36 with my eyes closed followed by 13 of 36 while shooting with my off-hand.
In all, It took 18 different ways of shooting free throws before I met my match – shooting them backwards. I made just 5 of 36 facing the opposite way to end the experiment.
My 648 free-throws taught me a few things.
1. All the practice time I put in to become better was still evident.
2. Even without practice (since I never shot more than a dozen free-throws with my right hand in my life before Saturday), you can make adjustments to correct your mistakes.
3. Sometimes, the easiest way isn’t the most productive. You may need to change things up to find success.
4. A lot of our success comes from believing that we can do something and then going for it.
5. It’s a lot easier to shoot a free-throw when there aren’t 20,000 screaming fans watching you!