Great basketball games can be won or lost over a single point. So, when you're in the NBA, and you make $20 million a year, shouldn't you be hitting your free throws?
Makes you wonder, are traditional free throws the most accurate way to shoot?
To answer that, I looked at some brand new research from professors at Yale and Harvard Universities and I visited with Keisha Anderson, who’s a youth coach with Fire N Ice, and a former point guard in the WNBA and at the University of Wisconsin.
“Imagine you're in the WNBA, you walk up to the line to shoot your free throw, and you do it underhanded?” I asked Keisha.
“I would do it for laughs. I would probably make it on TV. I’d get on Sports Center,” Keisha said.
We're talking granny style, also known as the under-handed free throw. Two hands on the ball. Flick the wrists. Explode from the knees. Follow through.
It's dorky. Granny-style free is more accurate than traditional free throws.
That's the conclusion of a Yale professor, who wrote this research paper called "Optimal strategies for throwing accurately" for the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Essentially, the research concludes that throwing slower leads to more accuracy. The author says, "The underarm throw is marginally better for an average NBA player.”
“What would someone have to do to tell you to change your free throw shooting (to granny style)?" I ask Keisha.
“That I could go from 85 to 95 percent,” she said.
“You'd make the switch for 10 percent?” I asked.
“Of course,” she said.
In fact, that’s what great Wilt Chamberlain was able to do, boost his free throw percentage, after adopting the granny style. Until he dropped it, because as he wrote in his book, it made him feel "like a sissy."
“It looks silly right?” I ask Keisha.
“I guess it was uncool back then too. Something's just don't look right,” she said.
Rick Barry, who played from 1965-85, is the only player truly known for the granny shot. He perfected it and became the fourth-best free throw shooter of all time. Ahead of him are Steve Nash, Mark Price and Steph Curry.
“If I grew and they said, 'That's the way to shoot then,' then it's cool,” Keisha said.
“But it's not. It's not cool for anybody,” I said.
“Rick Barry,” Keisha said.
You'd think for what these guys get paid, they could at least give granny a shot.