The funny thing about being a professional athlete is that you’re among the best in the world at what you do, yet there’s an endless line of people telling you how to be better. DeAndre Jordan knows exactly how this feels. Despite playing in the NBA, and thus being one of the world’s best basketball players, Jordan faces consistent criticism and critiques for his greatest weakness: free throw shooting.
There seems to be an indefatigable amount of advice for Jordan, coming from all directions – fans who say “just make your free throws” as if that’s at all helpful, to former pros, like Rick Barry, imploring him to shoot underhand. Now, Jordan’s own teammate, J.J. Redick, has lent his voice to the matter, suggesting that Jordan shoot his free throws with his right hand. Jordan, as Dan Woike of the O.C. Register reports, isn’t too keen on the idea.
After the game, J.J. Redick, maybe jokingly and maybe seriously, said for the past two seasons he has told Jordan to shoot free throws with his right hand.
“He jumps off his left foot, which is how most right-handed people jump,” Redick said. “Their left foot is their dominant foot. He shoots every single jump hook, and tonight, running hook, with his right hand. He finishes around the basket with his right hand. He’s really good at it.”
Jordan, a career 42 percent free-throw shooter, said he’s not making any drastic changes.
“I tried to shoot with my right hand, and it was pretty much the same. Maybe worse,” he said. “I think I’m going to stick with the left because I’ve been practicing that for awhile.”
What are we to say to this? Should we admonish Jordan for being stubborn, for sticking with something that hasn’t worked at all? Of course shooting with his right hand was worse, because he’s never practiced it. But given more time, it could be the exact thing he needs to address this glaring weakness.
It seems to have worked for Tristan Thompson, who switched shooting hands — not just for free throws — before his third season and has seen his true shooting percentage go up in every year since.
Or should we just stay out of it? Redick is one of the game’s elite shooters, both from beyond the arc and at the line. He’s also considerably smaller than Jordan. What would he know of the shooting struggles common amongst big men? Jordan knows his body and his skills better than anyone else. It’s possible he’s not being stubborn with his refusal to change tactics, he’s just being realistic.
Maybe DJ should shoot free throws underhanded or right-handed or no-handed or just chuck the ball at the backboard so it ricochets to his teammate waiting on the perimeter. We won’t know until Jordan dedicates himself to one method – not just giving it a shot, but adhering to it over the course of a season. If he’d rather stick with the status quo, that’s his right. There’s no right answer here, or at least one that will immediately fix Jordan’s shot, no matter how many people say otherwise.