Cleveland Cavaliers Forward Tristan Thompson Needs To Improve His Free Throw Shooting

By Nick Claussen
Rob Grabowski – USA TODAY Sports

I can’t stand the way that Cleveland Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson shoots free throws.

The 6-9 forward is in his second year with the Cavaliers and has turned into a solid player, but he needs to do something about his free throw shooting.

Thompson has started all 41 games for the Cavaliers this season, and is averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He is very good around the rim at ripping down rebounds and dunking the ball for easy points.

He is not very good around the free throw line, though, and I think that it is in part because of the way he is shooting his free throws.

Late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, for example, Thompson went to the free throw line for a chance to give the Cavaliers two very important points.

With each free throw, the referee passed the ball to Thompson who held it, spun it, and then shot it. He didn’t dribble the ball either time and he didn’t make either shot.

I’m not saying that a free throw shooter has to dribble the ball in order to make the shot, but it sure helps in most cases.

Thompson is just shooting 61 percent from the free throw line so far this season, which is one of the worst averages on the team. I really like Thompson – he plays hard, and is turning into a very productive player.  Ironically, he has the best overall shooting percentage on the team, as he is shooting a solid 48 percent from the field.

No matter how well he is playing, though, no NBA player should be shooting free throws as poorly as he is.

If you’re going to be a good free throw shooter, you need to have good rhythm and a dependable routine, with the idea being that you want to concentrate on the routine and not the moment or the importance of the shot. Thompson does not have a good routine or any rhythm, as evidenced by his 61 percent shooting from the line.

To be fair to Thompson, he’s actually not the worst free throw shooter on the Cavaliers as Omri Casspi (who is a good three-point shooter) is making just 56 percent of his free throws, Jon Leuer is shooting a paltry 33 percent from the free throw line and Luke Walton is shooting a terrible 29 percent from the line.

If Thompson is going to help the Cavaliers win more close games this season and in the future, he needs to get better a routine from the free throw line and needs to become a much better free throw shooter. And please, please, please – someone on the Cavaliers needs to make Thompson at least dribble the ball a few times before shooting it.

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