Video: Mavs’ DeAndre Jordan has a peculiar free-throw routine
Those familiar with the Dallas Mavericks might already have taken notice, but DeAndre Jordan’s overnight improvement of his free-throw shooting percentage is the byproduct of one small quirk: talking.
Jordan had been a career-long 45 percent and under free-throw shooter, one of the biggest deterrents of having him on the floor when the chips are down, but he took notice of this very flaw and started to make small tweaks.
The big man’s form was never the issue, but rather his tuning into the motion that rattled him. If he was too relaxed shooting a free throw he would air ball; too tuned into it and he would clank the ball due to the mental pressure.
Similar to a guitar string, Jordan’s mental game had to be on-key before releasing the ball … not too loose, but not too tight.
He resorted to distracting himself before the motion, asking a teammate something as simple as “who you got?” to shake off the nerves before getting only two bounces of the ball and an immediate upward motion to take and make the shot:
The results are inarguable, as his free-throw percentage jumped from 48.2 percent in 2016-17 to a much better 58.0 percent last season, only to see it soar again through the first half of 2018-19 with a career-best 68.9 percent from the stripe.
The ritual is odd, but every man has his superstitions and Jordan isn’t any different, showing that the psychological game is just as important as elbow position, bent knees and a solid follow-through.