Dwight Howard hits 90% of his free throws in practice

Dwight Howard's free throw problem is 100% in his head

11/22/13 in NBA   |   Pat   |   5138 respect

Nov 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) smiles as he shoots prior to the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsThere are lots of potential excuses for Dwight Howard's free throw shooting. He's not the first elite center to be an abysmal free throw shooter. In fact, even smaller players are sometimes given a pass for poor free throw shooting simply on the basis that they have large hands, which make it harder to be consistent from the line (see: Rondo, Rajon).

But the thing is, Dwight's capable of hitting free throws at a solid clip. Seriously.

Here's a video of Dwight hitting 18 out of 20 free throws in practice:



So how come Dwight can hit free throw after free throw in practice, but has a career FT% of .576 with a sample size of over 6,500 shots?

The clear answer: It's completely in his head.

At practice, Dwight is money. In games, he's a joke. To even further enforce the idea that it's 100% a mental issue, look at his percentage with the Lakers.

Prior to arriving in LA, he had a .588 career free throw percentage. With the Lakers, where it's well known that he was unhappy, his percentage dropped to an abysmal .492 clip. After leaving the Lakers, he's now back up to .544 in Houston, where he is much happier.

Physically, Dwight Howard is one of the strongest and most imposing players in the league. Mentally, he's the exact opposite. He gets in his own head, and allows the pressure to get to him in the biggest moments.

Perhaps that's why he'll never lead his team to a championship. Book it.


Hat tip to The Starters
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11/26/13   |   w_g_walters   |   221 respect

Pat wrote:
"In games, there are distractions and pressure that don't exist in practice"

Thanks. That's exactly my point. If a player can't overcome those distractions, it's because he's mentally weak.

I think you missed part of my message. It's a coaching problem that's never addressed. All they need to do have the player address other people without stopping. I don't know of a coach who does this. A mentally weak player doesn't get who-knows-how-many rebounds in one game because that requires concentration, though he might get fined for throwing a ball into the stands. I think that was more because of all the "hack-a-Howard" going on, though.

11/25/13   |   Pat   |   5138 respect

w_g_walters wrote:
Shooting free throws in practice and in games are not the same. In games, there are distractions and pressure that don't exist in practice, and coaches don't try to prepare the players for the difference. That's why what our announcers call "hack-a-Howard" seems to have an effect. But from a couple of the games in the last week, it looks like he may be starting to overcome that problem. He's a monster rebounder, not a consistent major scorer, so as long as he gets his temper under control (and Harden stays healthy), the Rockets will go far this year, and maybe win it all in '15.

"In games, there are distractions and pressure that don't exist in practice"

Thanks. That's exactly my point. If a player can't overcome those distractions, it's because he's mentally weak.

11/25/13   |   w_g_walters   |   221 respect

Shooting free throws in practice and in games are not the same. In games, there are distractions and pressure that don't exist in practice, and coaches don't try to prepare the players for the difference. That's why what our announcers call "hack-a-Howard" seems to have an effect. But from a couple of the games in the last week, it looks like he may be starting to overcome that problem. He's a monster rebounder, not a consistent major scorer, so as long as he gets his temper under control (and Harden stays healthy), the Rockets will go far this year, and maybe win it all in '15.

11/23/13   |   MortonsLaw   |   156 respect

He is worthless overall in a big spot, and will never win a ring.