After shooting 74.6 percent from the free-throw line in his rookie season, Dion Waiters' free-throw percentage has declined over the last two years. Last season, Waiters shot a career-low 68 percent from the free-throw line, which is quite poor for a guard.
Wanting to stop the continual decline of his free-throw percentage, Waiters watched film of his technique in the offseason and noticed that most of his misses would go to the left. Believing that this was because of where he positioned his feet on the free-throw line, Waiters has decided to shoot his free-throws this season by standing as close to the right elbow as possible.
Sounds strange? Well, Waiters hasn't made a dramatic amount of free-throws with this technique in the preseason but the Thunder guard seems determined to make the change work.
Waiters conversed with his shooting coach and decided to test a new style, sliding a step to the right for free throws. “The first couple times it felt weird,” he said.
But Waiters, always the free basketball spirit, wasn't swayed from the kooky correction. He was convinced he needed to amp it up. “I moved even more to the right,” he said.
Starting this preseason, Waiters is shooting free throws cockeyed, closer to the right elbow than the center of the lane. “Kevin (Durant) said you gonna get a damn violation you step out any further,” he joked.
The results have been mixed. Waiters nailed seven of his first eight to start the preseason, but missed three of four against the Mavericks on Wednesday night.
Former NBA player Nick Van Exel famously used to shoot his free-throws a good two or three steps back from the actual line. But he was at least centered with the rim and finished his career shooting 79.4 percent from the line. Waiters on the other hand, is nowhere near the center of the lane.
It will be interesting to see if Waiters keeps this technique up all season and is actually able to make more free-throws because of it. With Billy Donovan's offense expected to open up more scoring opportunites, Waiters could thrive off the bench for the Thunder this season. Especially if Donovan's system allows space for Waiters to play to his strength of attacking the basket, which could result in plenty of free-throw opportunities for the Thunder guard.
Just don't be surprised if you see Waiters take his free-throws all the way to the right. He is actually doing it on purpose.