Shift Feet, Score More

 paul piece

 paul pierce

How many times did we hear it in prior years… “Paul Pierce can’t hit clutch free throws”?  It was one of the big knocks on Pierce’s game.  It was hard to argue.  His free throw average was in the high 70’s… but it dropped a few points late in the game over the past few years. 

But you don’t hear that anymore, do you? 

Paul Pierce has changed a lot about his game this year.  He’s been unselfish (his scoring is 3 points below his career average, but his shooting% and assists are higher).  He’s clearly playing better defense.  But his biggest change… and one that no one’s talked about… is his free throw shooting.

Paul is a career 79.5% free throw shooter.  This year:  84.6%  And there’s a simple reason why.

Watch his feet.

In years past, Paul went to the line… put his left foot slightly back from the line… bent a little at the knees… and shot.  This year, he’s got that left foot way back.  He’s also crouching a bit more. But why?

The past few years, Paul had gotten into a bad habit of shooting his free throw and fading away from the line.  By the time the ball hit the rim, he was practically at the top of the key.  That’s a sign of bad balance… and its enough to make the shot bounce out, rather than bounce in. 

By putting that left foot back and bending more, he changes his center of gravity and maintains his balance throughout the shot… preventing himself from fading away.  Just look a the second set of photos.  In the 2006 photo, when he brings the ball up to shoot… his weight is over his heels… almost forced him to fade backwards when he shot.  Now… his weight is forward… over his knee. 

Now, a shot that grazes the front of the rim and goes in… where it used to hit the front of the rim, bounce up, and sometimes out. 

Its that simple.  Shifting that left foot back and bending the knees… is good for an extra 5% of Paul Pierce’s free throws going in. 

Herald:  C’s in a different league  |  Doc:  the future is now  |  Globe:  Celts happy to frolic in field of dreams  |  Riley, Rivers have different views on tourney  |  Souza: C’s take care of business  |  Camerato:  Another record for C’s  |  Palm Beach Post:  Riley should scout NBA  |  T&G:  C’s don’t break a sweat  |  Patriot Ledger:  Big Chill 


12 Responses

  1. paul is THE MAN. i admit, in the past i was in favor of moving him in order to get someone with more maturity and leadership potential. i never felt like he was comfortable being the alpha dog, and he never proved that he could take over games when necessary. not so much in terms of play, but emotionally.

    i think i was mostly right. with kg to be the emotional core of the team and keep everyone focused paul is now free to be the player he’s meant to be. last season he was better, and showed a lot more maturity. but you can see how much more he loves his role now. i absolutely love his game this season. he’s playing with smarts, tons of effort, within the system, and he trusts his team. i think he has shown so much maturity in the adjustments he’s made to his game and the way he’s embraced his role.

    his free throw shooting is a joy to watch this season. i’ve been paying close attention. how fantastic is it to have a guy who can go hard to the basket on any possession and be almost guaranteed of getting a call. then, when he goes to the line, it’s two points, almost as automatic as sending ray to the line. i love it, and it’s an essential weapon for a team to achieve greatness.

    good post. i love the images for comparison, and i love the closer look at the little things the celtics are doing this year. thanks!

  2. oh yeah free throws are very important for win n Paul is great now
    thanks for the pics

  3. glad you like the pics.

    I think is the greatest indication of what Paul Pierce has done to make things work this year. NBA Superstars have big egos by nature (they have to… lack of confidence is deadly)… to change something like is very indicative of his mindset.

  4. […]      Celtics 24/7    Celts tie defensive record in Miami blowout     Red’s Army   Shift feet, score more     SouthCoast Today   KG for MVP not to be     Patriot Ledger   Pierce has eye on Kansas […]

  5. Wow great post. Last year having Pierce in every fantasy league I cringed when he went to the line, this year with all the buzz around the team I rarely had that feeling.

  6. good post, but if you had watched the miami game you would have heard mike gorman beat you to it. so i guess someone’s talked about it, but it certainly took long enough.

    its funny how a game long twenty point lead will lead to past-present free throw mechanics. i’m looking forward to next week when they compare scal’s production, short vs. long hair.

    paul pierce: MVPP

  7. Did he really?

    I didn’t watch Heat game (can you blame me?). If anything substantial happened…. I’d record the rebroadcast and watch that

  8. ive been saying this to my boys all year about how hes changed his free throw shooting and become way better at them

  9. This has certainly worked for Paul, but it is his form now is not at all what a good shooter should look like.

  10. yeah i figured that most people didn’t. i can never get enough blowouts.

    nothing particularly impressive, especially offensively, but there was a nice stretch when the heat couldnt do anything offensively. posey and cassel (yeah, sam cassell) were just devastating defensively. if doc had played everyone their usual minutes the final score might have been 125-25.
    we had to settle for the least amount of FGs (17) by a team in an NBA game EVER. and they had four in the last two minutes.

    oh and you could have seen some Stephane Lasme, who came out of UMass last year. and tied an NCAA record with four triple doubles. points, rebounds, and … !blocks.

  11. The biggest improvement in this picture would be the C’s who are in the pic besides Pierce from the 2006 picture to the 2008 one. Our once Raef & Scal big man duo has turned into Perk and KG.

  12. Saludos, it s great!

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