Before bringing in Dwight Howard via trade back in August, the Los Angeles Lakers were well aware that he is without a doubt the best center in the NBA. Along with the distinction as the league’s best rebounder and defender, the Lakers’ front office knew that if he returned to form after back surgery he’d be the future face of the franchise in the post Kobe Bryant era.
Although the consensus is that Howard is without an equal in terms of his all-around game, there’s no question that his biggest flaw comes at the free-throw line. As a career 58.8 percent shooter from the charity stripe, Howard is very similar to former Laker Shaquille O’Neal in terms of being a liability at the line.
Apparently, Howard’s poor shooting at the free-throw line may eventually turn into a thing of the past with the superstar center shooting a shockingly good percentage during scrimmages and after practice according to Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person via Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times:
So the Lakers have tracked every one of his shots from the stripe since they acquired him in August, even in scrimmages and after practice when players shoot individually. Every…single…one.
“He’s just a little bit above 80%,” said Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person.
If Howard were to shoot 80 percent from the line during the regular season, the Lakers newest superstar addition would be an absolute beast offensively. With all the free-throw attempts Howard gets over the course of an 82-game season and throughout the playoffs, the Lakers would be that much more dangerous on the offensive end of the floor.
Last season, Howard shot a career-low 49.1 percent from the line. This simply won’t get the job done with the Lakers needing him on the floor at all times. Howard will continue to be free-throw liability in close games if that part of his game isn’t improved immediately.
Hopefully, the impressive shooting percentage from the line in practice and scrimmages will carryover to regular season games.
In case you missed it: Dwight Howard talks about the slow process of putting together a championship team.