I’ve solved Duncan’s free-throw dilemma
The Spurs’ graceful center-forward is at .635 from the stripe with a month to go in the season; four years ago he shot .799, followed by .822 in the playoffs. In a matter of hours I could get him squared away. The honcho in San Antone, Gregg Popovich, recently said he’s learned valuable insights into coaching tactics, techniques and philosophy from coaches in foreign lands. Now if we can just get him to open his mind to teaching methods from non-coaches in domestic lands!
The difference between a title and a close-but-no-cigar finish could be Duncan’s performance at the stripe. Will Popovich stick to the head-in-the-sand approach currently utilized by Pat Riley with regard to Shaq, or will Pop open his mind? That’s the question.
UPDATE March 30: I first wrote about Duncan's yo-yo free-throw career during the 2005 playoffs, in this Inside Hoops essay. It was chock full of insights, as usual, but I wrote it from an erroneous premise: that Duncan was shooting in 2005 with the same basic delivery as in his banner 2001-02 season. A few weeks ago I learned that that was not the case. I've alerted the Spurs' braintrust to the differences, and time will tell if they heed my advice. The Spurs have more smart, open-minded people in their organization than your typical NBA franchise, so there's a decent chance they'll do some heeding.