NBA Needs ASG Worst Shooters Free Throw Contest
NBA Needs ASG Worst Shooters Free Throw Contest
The NBA All-Star Game needs a free throw contest, and the sooner the better.
I know everyone is excited to see Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Chris Paul duking it out from the charity stripe. How many rounds will it take before one of them misses? Or maybe, the winner is the first to make 50 consecutive free throws?
Actually, this contest idea has a hilarious twist to it: The NBA’s worst free throw shooters will be the lucky participants.
As of March 25th, here are this season’s bottom five free throw shooters who might qualify for this kind of contest, along with their percentages: Andre Drummond (0.358), Deande Jordan (0.439), Dwight Howard (0.500), Rudy Gobert (0.583), and Nerlens Noel (0.592). Kenneth Faried, Tristan Thompson, and Bismack Biyombo are all desperately to sneak their way into the bottom five, knowing this contest is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss.
How much money are these players paid to clank free throws? Here are the 2016 salaries for each of them: Drummond ($3,272,091), Jordan ($19,689,000), Howard ($22,359,364), Gobert ($1,175,880), and Noel ($3,457,800).
Possible ideas for how this free throw contest should operate:
• Qualifying NBA players can’t drop out of the contest, except for in cases of injury (Dwight Howard might “sprain his ankle” a couple of days before the contest).
• Multiple rounds are not necessary. One round might be sufficient, giving 10 free throw attempts to each contestant.
• If two or more contestants tie, they keep shooting rounds of 10 for as long as is necessary to break the tie.
• Ten total contestants, 5 of them being the NBA players at the bottom of the league in free throw percentage.
• One random fan should be invited out of the stands to participate. Seriously, pull a seat number out of a hat, invite that lucky fan down to the court, and let us watch as they shoot better than Andre Drummond.
• Celebrity contestants? Sure! Invite people such as Dwayne Johnson, Katy Perry, and Jimmy Fallon. Maybe a NBA cheerleader or WNBA player could join?
• While one contestant is shooting, the other nine contestants get to stand together on the baseline. They can dance, cheer, wave, or use any means necessary (appropriately, of course) to try to distract the shooter. I am confident that Arizona State’s “Curtain of Distraction” would gladly participate, if invited.
• As an added incentive to perform well, the NBA player with the best shooting performance becomes ineligible for the following season’s contest.
• Contest winner gets to take a photo next to Shaq while holding their trophy.
Some will argue that this contest would be too embarrassing for players, but these players are paid too much money to perform so poorly. If a player doesn’t want to be a participant, they need to practice their free throws and get themselves out of the league’s bottom five. The contest would be all in good fun, and I believe the players would understand that.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the 2016 All-Star weekend that the NBA continues to ponder its options on how to approach “Hack-a-Shaq”.
“My personal view is beginning to change on the issue,” Silver said. “Last summer, I said I was personally on the fence. I’m beginning to feel that a change needs to be made.”
I do understand some of the reasoning behind Silver’s desire to rethink the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy. It significantly slows down the pace of a game, can be painful to watch for some, and NBA leaders are concerned that it hurts TV ratings
For now though, the “hurt TV ratings” argument is still a myth, as there is no clear data proving it is hurting ratings. Many fans, myself included, actually enjoy seeing the strategy being played out. Watching professional basketball players miss large quantities of free throws has a level of comedy to it that many fans can’t turn away from.
Drummond established an NBA game record of 23 missed free throws against the Houston Rockets in January (13-36 from the line). Perhaps even more incredible than Drummond’s 23 missed free throws is the shocker that Detroit still managed to win, 123-114. Houston apparently needed Drummond to shoot 3 for 36 at the line in order to win, but it didn’t work out quite that perfectly for them.
The free throw shooters can’t be the only ones to blame in these situations. Why does Stan Van Gundy allow Drummond the opportunity to miss 23 free throws? When it is obvious an opposing team is playing “Hack-a-Shaq”, many coaches need to get the targeted player out of the game. Sure, the player should be allowed a few attempts to see if they knock down some free points. The player should not be taken out immediately, unless it is at the tail end of a game when a team truly can’t afford to miss free throws. Taking them out too soon only encourages opposing teams to start fouling in hopes of the player being dragged to the bench. However, if the player is already on free throw miss number 10 or 15, at some point the coach needs to pull them.
Advocates for leaving the rules alone have argued that “Hack-a-Shaq” would go away if players simply hit their free throws. Gobert provided an excellent example of this against the Suns in February. With the Suns trying to make a late rally versus the Jazz, Gobert attempted 12 fourth-quarter free throws. The Suns strategy backfired, as Gobert hit 9 of the 12, sealing the win and giving Utah the last laugh. While he is still among the league’s worst free throw shooters, he proved these players do not need to be coddled and protected by rules.
The NBA has not made any decisions yet, in part because there is no perfect solution for eliminating this strategy. The strategy is guaranteed to be a hot topic of debate this upcoming offseason.
“Even among the strongest critics of the so-called Hack-a-Shaq strategy, there doesn’t appear to be any consensus on what the new rule should be,” Silver said.
If the NBA does create rule changes that remove “Hack-a-Shaq” from the game, the fans at least deserve to see this free throw contest. The NBA is an incredible league that represents basketball at the highest level, but it also Gongfu Tea Cup
a source of worldwide entertainment. Many consider “Hack-a-Shaq” to be a blemish on the NBA’s entertainment value. As they say though, adversity creates opportunity. The NBA has a golden chance to turn this flaw into the league’s most amusing contest.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com