Blog Entry

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:24 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 11:25 am
By Matt Moore

Dwight Howard shot a career high in free throw percentage last year at 59.6 percent. Getting past the fact that his career high was still below 60 percent, it's good that he made progress in what was considered to be his best year in the league. Granted, it was only a .4 percentage point improvement over the previous season and a .2 percentage point improvement over his previous best, but hey. Baby steps? Apparently Dwight doesn't think those baby steps took him quite far enough, so he's started what he should have started years ago. He's hired a free throw shooting coach. 

From the Orlando Sentinel:
In his quest to become a better free-throw shooter, Dwight Howard has turned to a man who bills himself as the "Shooting Surgeon General" and the "Free-Throw Master."

Howard is working with shooting coach Ed Palubinskas, an Australian sharpshooter who played in the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics and is the career free-throw percentage leader at LSU. Palubinskas has worked with Orlando Magic power forward Brandon Bass and also briefly worked with Shaquille O'Neal.
via Dwight Howard: Orlando Magic all-star Dwight Howard hires Ed Palubinskas to be his shooting coach -

Palubinskas told the Sentinel that he will change Howard's numbers in one year. The idea here is that Howard will be a better student than Shaq. That's kind of interesting to note. Howard comes across as a willing student, having sought out Hakeem Olajuwon to improve his game. But Howard also took some of what Hakeem taught him and sought to disregard the rest, telling last year that there was only so much Olajuwon could teach him since the game was so much different now. Free throw shooting obviously doesn't change, so it'll be interesting to see if Howard fully embraces Palubinskas' teaching or not. 

What's the real impact of Howard's free thows? Last year he missed 370 free throws. If he raised his percentage to the league average of 76.6 percent, that's over 155 more pointss per season, or, based on his 78-game season, nearly two points per game (1.9 exactly). Doesn't sound like much, right? Thing is, that would move him to 24.8 points per game, which is only .2 points behind Derrick Rose. It's worth it for Howard to just make the league average. If he were to become even beetter, the offensive impact would cover his still-less-than-excellent footwork and post moves. It's the quickest way to an MVP trophy for him, and would naturally help the Magic out as well. 

We'll see if it actually makes a difference, and how Palubinskas reforms his shooting, in form or function. 


Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:55 am

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

what took him so long. and wouldn't his rookie season be his best FT%? he shot 67.1% that year.

Since: Oct 6, 2009
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:15 am

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

It's good to see a proven NBA All-Star and vet reach out to try and improve their game.  So many of these guys now a days don't really continue working on improving all areas of their game.  Only the truly great ones (or the borderline NBA players that are fighting for their spot on the team) continue to improve their game.  This is by far Howards weak link and shoring his free throw shooting up will help both him and the team out quite a bit.  I'd like to see his FT shooting percentage for the last 2 minutes of the game and see if it improves compared to the rest of the game.

Since: Jul 29, 2011
Posted on: August 28, 2011 7:26 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Good for Dwight Howard in improving his game. It my opinion it's the biggest flaw in his game.  Other big men and some little one's should follow the example that Dwight is showing.  These players make gaziilions of dollars and get fouled all the time because other teams know that their free throw percentage is atrocious.  Good for Dwight trying to earn every penny of that paycheck and help himself and his team improve!

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: August 27, 2011 6:32 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Good point Snooze. I would like to see a breakdown of those stats by position. Also remember- shooting form has improved generally. Most players over the past decade have learned proper form. The 70's were only a decade or two away from bucket shots and many players had some pretty ugly shooting form- self taught.

Since: Aug 27, 2011
Posted on: August 27, 2011 2:44 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Check out  The league average has hovered around 75-76% since the early 70's, and was in the low 70's before that so I don't think the size of the players has made much of a difference

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: August 27, 2011 1:54 am

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Interesting theory about free throws being hurt by excessive weight building/ muscle bulk. I played at a fairly high level in the 70's/ 80's and as players we did notice that too much weight training led to a less soft touch and a drop in foul shot production. Nothing scientific but just an observation from a time when none of us carried the bulk of today's players- we were skinny by comparison.

So were there a lot more good foul shooters around then (assuming there were) because of less muscle mass and less weight training or did my generation just spend more time shooting and less time doing windmill jams? I really don't know but I really don't remember so many bad foul shooters back in the 70's.

Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: August 26, 2011 9:41 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Free throw shooting has been lost to a lot of current players, if you a player is really lousy at making it and really has problem with his follow through, i think mainly because nowadays the weightlifting makes them lose their fine motor skills, then use the time and tested under hand shot, basically it just guides the ball to the ring with little effort even cross eyed or closed eyes the chances of making the shot is of higher percentage. Or basically do the brick shot hit the ball inside the square of the backboard and pray it hit the ring. Dwight Howard also should refer his FT shooting coach to Biedrins lol, also practice and less time on the weight room in my opinion.

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: August 26, 2011 9:12 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Sorry Romeobodeo, but the underhand free-throw's usage died with the lost art of the two hand set shot.  Now everyone has such a dominant hand that the granny shot is almost impossible to teach. 

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:23 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

It boggles my mind that professional players whose income is derived from their basketball skills won't even try shooting free throws underhand- I'm guessing because of their egos. For a big man, it's much easier to get a natural arch and a soft touch shooting an underhand shot. Back in the 70's, Rick Barry led the league in free throw percentage shooting his free throws in an underhand style, and is one of the all time free throw shooting percentage leaders. Dwight Howard would be well advised to at least try shooting that way to see how well it works for him.

Personally, I wouldn't let any taunting affect the way I play. The only chuckle I'd care about would be mine after we have more points on the scoreboard at the end of the game.

Manly free throws. What a laugh.

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: August 26, 2011 3:07 pm

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

Shaq was the only player in history to get away with bad foul shooting and win big (that I can think of). The game has evolved to the point that any weakness will be played to. So as long as Howard and Rondo can not hit free throws, teams will force them to shoot tons of free throws so- if you want a title- fix your flaws!

Along that line, Lebron should be working on his post up game.

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