Los Angeles Lakers: Why Can't Dwight Howard Hit Free Throws?

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIINovember 30, 2012

Nov 24, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) shoots from the foul line during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Lakers defeated the Mavericks 115-89. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

I would genuinely like it if someone could explain something to me.

Why is it that NBA players such as Dwight Howard seem unable to consistently hit free throws?

We watched Shaquille O’Neal clank free throws throughout his career, and now we are watching the new Superman do virtually the same thing.

Are there physical limitations? Lack of discipline? A mental block?

Seriously, what is the problem? I do not want to go down the road of suggesting that kids and grandmothers could do better. However, there are many young athletes out there that have learned to effectively put the ball through the net when shooting from the charity stripe.

I am not looking for Rick Barry numbers. Still, it seems reasonable that a professional basketball player could hit 70 percent of his throws.

So far this season, Howard is converting 47.8 percent from the line. He is on pace to have his worst year from the line in his nine-year career. His best season was his rookie year when he shot a blistering 67.1 percent.

An athlete is eventually going to experience declining skills in terms of strength and speed, but you would think that free throws could maintain some consistency. Besides, Dwight is not that old.

The only theory that I have ever heard had to do with hand size. During O’Neal’s career there was some talk about how it was hard for a guy like him to shoot free throws with such large hands.

That theory might fly if Shaq was the only player with large hands in the NBA. I do not think it would be hard to find other athletes that somehow find a way to shoot over 70 percent despite similar physical traits.

Even though Pau Gasol is subject to constant trade rumors, he still finds a way to hit 75.9 percent of his free throws.

Is there a mentality amongst certain teams and coaches that they just do not expect everyone to hit free throws on a consistent basis? Do stars feel like they do not have to work on their weaknesses?

Or, is this simply a lack of discipline and willingness to practice?

This is again where I am confused. These are supposedly the best basketball players in the world. They make millions of dollars and can focus exclusively on their craft. They have access to the best coaches and teachers that money can buy.

Despite all of that, they still cannot shoot 70 percent?

What if the Lakers called Rick Barry and asked him to tutor Dwight for a summer? Would that be such a bad solution?

Or, why not have some of these big men kick it old school and shoot free throws underhand?

I am serious.

Does someone like Howard have anything to lose? I suppose there might be a pride issue, and other players might give him a bad time if he started shooting underhand. However, if he starts hitting 75 percent, who cares what other people think?

Would the Los Angeles Lakers be winning games if Howard and the team were hitting more free throws? After all, the Lakers are shooting 66.8 percent as a team, which is very close to being the worst in the NBA.

I think the Lakers have more problems than hitting free throws, but converting more free points certainly would not hurt.