Yesterday, Casey Holdahl, digital reporter for the Portland Trail Blazers, tackled an often overlooked element of the NBA season: technical free throw shooting.
Holdahl notes that the Blazers have seen an overall decrease in their free throw shooting, from 80 percent last season to 73 percent this season, but their technical foul shooting has been even worse. The Blazers are just 17 of 28 for the season - less than 61 percent.
But before Portland fans hit the panic button there are some extenuating circumstances to consider:
Now, saying the team is shooting 61 percent on technical free throws, while true, is a little disingenuous in that only four players, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe, have taken technical free throw this season. Of those four, McCollum, who shoots 81 percent from the line in general, is by far the team's worst technical free throw shooter, making just one of his seven attempts this season.
Holdahl interviewed McCollum about the poor technical shooting and the point guard had this to say:
"It's something about shooting when there's nobody underneath there that's just weird for me," said McCollum in an attempt to explain his technical free throw shooting difficulties. "I'm used to defenders being around, people are lined up. Now it sounds like I'm making excuses because it's just a wide open free throw and I haven't stepped up like I should... It's just you and the ref, which is really weird because it doesn't happen often."
Going forward, McCollum may be seeing fewer technical free throw opportunities. Head Coach Terry Stotts recently formalized the team's technical free throw procedure by dictating that the highest percentage shooter on the court should step to the line, Holdahl writes. At 80.6 percent McCollum is fourth on the team, trailing Lillard, Noah Vonleh, and Crabbe.
Stotts policy is somewhat of a departure from NBA tradition. Holdahl concludes the article with this story from Stotts:
"It's not about what you did on the last technical," said head coach Terry Stotts. "Now when I was in Milwaukee, Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen used to have like, you had it until you missed it and then it was the next guy's turn. Generally it's kind of common there's a little competition for who shoots them."
Though that won't be the case in Portland, at least not for the rest of the season.
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