Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy appear to differ in their opinion of Howard's career-long struggle to make free throws. Counting his 11-of-18 performance on free throws in yesterday's loss to the Toronto Raptors, Howard is shooting a career-worst .569 from the line this season. Ryan McNeill of Hoops Addict caught up with Howard and Van Gundy after yesterday's game. Here's Dwight:
Howard, however, wasn't too worried about his free throws. When asked in the locker room if he's frustrated or will beat himself up mentally over missed free throws he quickly responded, "No, I'm going to miss free throws. I'm not worried about it as long as I go back on the defensive end and make a play. I'm not 100 per cent from the line, so I know I'm going to miss some, but I've just got to have confidence when I step up there that I'll make them. I know Stan (Van Gundy) gets on me a lot, but I'm going to miss some and I'm going to make some."
Contrast this take with Stan's:
When asked directly about Howard's woes from the "charity" stripe, Van Gundy didn't hide his disgust when he responded, "It's not good enough, but that's about what he shoots. Sixty per cent at the free throw line makes it tough (to win). We've got a tremendous advantage down there because they couldn't guard him at all but they get to the fourth quarter and they just foul and it's just one out of two every time. Then we're coming down to the other end and it's two-for-two which is a big difference."
I hesitate to call Dwight out for doing bad--even with the poor free-throw shooting, he's having the best individual season of his career and is quite obviously Orlando's most important player--but it seems to me he should care more about missing free throws. Sure, he does a lot of things great. But consider this: if Dwight just shot 67.1% at the line--that's his career-high, from 2004/2005, his first professional season--he would have scored 47 more points this season, adding 1.5 points to his per-game scoring average. That's not an insignificant total. It's not like we're asking him to be Ray Allen or Reggie Miller at the stripe. Just two-thirds will do, man. Two-thirds! Does that sound nit-picky to you? Or am I being reasonable in asking a professional basketball player to make two-thirds of his foul shots?