Dwight Misses Again

Something tells me Superman could make his free-throws

Something tells me Superman could make his free-throws

Dwight Howard has 88 million reasons to make a free throw. He has 88 million reasons to be consistent. He has 88 million reasons to prove the haters wrong.

Bleacher Report just did a funny piece on the topic of the two things Dwight Howard is awful at: free throws and media questions. Ha, lucky us.

Howard’s answer for his poor free throwing shooting is that we talk about it too much. But in the game of basketball, there aren’t many gimmes. There aren’t many free points. A right-handed layup, that’s a gimme. Heck, in the pros any layup is a gimme. Any time you’re in the paint without a defender up in your face, that’s a gimme. Anytime you play the Jazz, that’s a gimme. 99% of the time Dwight touches the ball, that’s a gimme. Anytime you’ve been in the league for nearly a decade where the free throw line has remained a constant, that’s a gimme. If you’re shooting from a point on the court known as the “charity stripe,” that alone should tell you IT’S A GIMME.

But it’s not just Houston where Howard is sucking it up. Dwight has never really been any good at those free buckets at the line, not hitting more than 50% since the 2010-11 season. There’s this thing about sports – when teams spot your weakness, like in the Astros case where everything seems to be a weakness, they exploit them. It seems to reason if the Astros can’t hit a fastball if their lives depended on it, would you throw them a curveball followed by a slider?

Um, no.

The same rule applies here to Howard – if the big guy can’t sink a free throw when the pressure’s on, why not foul him all day and all night? And it seems to be working, especially down the stretch.

When it comes to free throws, Dwight is the exact opposite of our mascot. Get it? Clutch.

To date, Howard leads the league in free throws. Obviously not ones being made, but attempted shots, so far at 87.

In the much-anticipated Lakers game where Dwight greeted his old teammate buddies on his new home court, they sent him to the line 12 times just in the fourth quarter alone. For those not so good at math, that would have been 12 much-needed points in the fourth quarter, instead Dwight nailed only five. And isn’t that weird? The Rockets lost by one point that night. One.

According to NBA.com Dwight is only hitting 47.1% of his free throws, his second (30.8) and fourth (41.4) quarters

Dwight Howard having trouble from the charity stripe

Dwight Howard having trouble from the charity stripe

averaging the lowest.

And all this talk about how good Dwight is at making free throws in practice really doesn’t matter. I was good during Driver’s Ed, but my awful driving record is pretty much what matters at this point, does it not? My car insurance doesn’t calculate my insanely high rates based on how good I was when I practiced.

I don’t think “Hey officer, I was driving really good and legal until you started watching me,” would suffice as an answer the way Dwight thinks he can tell us the cameras and the lights and the pressure are getting to him. But again, like I always say – I’m not a 6-foot-11 professional basketball player or three-time defensive player of the year…But the point remains, I’m a terrible driver when it counts, as is he a terrible free throw shooter.

The $88 million you signed to come to Houston is meant to account for all that pressure and those cameras and the media and the criticism your bound to take by being a beast of your size and your nature. That’s coddling money for you buddy. And Dwight, if the pressure is getting to you already, perhaps take a page out of Matt Schaub’s book – it isn’t going to get any better until you do. That’s the cold hard truth in Houston and anywhere else.

Not that you should put much stock in Wikipedia, but if you look up “free throws” it even calls Dwight out as “a notoriously poor free throw shooter.” Wikipedia had 450 players to choose from this year alone, let alone the thousands of greats and poors over decades of play, and they cited Dwight as one of the worst. Well, if being one of the worst pays $88 million, put me in coach.

Let me be clear in saying Dwight Howard’s inconsistent free throw shooting isn’t the only inconsistent play the Rockets are experiencing at this point, like never knowing exactly which Patrick Beverley or Jeremy Lin you’re going to get come game time – the team really needs to step it up and win those easy games, and those easy “charity stripe” points.

They’re a pretty high contender this year and I for one want to see a team perform at least as expected this year.