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An underhanded solution to Mitchell Robinson’s free throw problem

You know where this is going.

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Free throws . . . we still have a problem.

The New York Knicks are the league’s second-worst free-throw shooting team, making only 72.6%. For reference, the Oklahoma City Thunder are first with 85.8%. Josh wrote about New York’s free throw shooting woes here.

It is unrealistic to expect perfection from the foul line. Still, New York misses 6.5 freebies per night, and it is costing them games. Of their seven losses, the Knicks lost four contests by six points or less. Making their free throws would have made the difference. Look:

  • Lost by four to Boston, missed 12 free throws.
  • Lost by six to Cleveland, missed 10 free throws.
  • Lost by five to Milwaukee, missed six free throws.
  • Lost by three to Phoenix, missed nine free throws.

Last year, New York was also in the bottom third of the NBA for free-throw percentage, but their success rate was at least a few ticks higher at 76.1%.

Ticks rhymes with Knicks, as does bricks. And who is the biggest bricklaying Knick of them all?

Frank Vogel knows. On Sunday night, the Suns coach briefly employed a Hack-A-Mitch strategy, because Robinson had averaged 37% from the charity stripe coming into the game. Down by four points, Mitch misfired his two free throws with two and a half minutes remaining. When every point matters, those missed opportunities sting the most. Mitch wasn’t the only one at fault: in the final quarter, Brunson and Hartenstein missed one free throw apiece. That’s four freebies missed. The team lost by three.

New York didn’t just miss from the line in the final quarter: the team made only six of their 20 field goal attempts over that span. One could easily argue that those whiffed field goals were much more damaging than the missed free throws. Still, the forsaking of nine total points in a close game will always stand out in the box score.

The solution to the problem is simple. Over his 14-year career, Rick Barry shot 89% from the line. How? By chucking it from his shorts and never once caring about being called a sissy. (Seriously, Barry had an obnoxious amount of self-confidence.) It’s called the Granny Shot, and here Barry teaches the technique to Red Auerbach.

As Auerbach states in the video, this form was the norm in the early days of basketball. The season that Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points a game, he employed the Granny. Helped him reach 100 points in a game! What happened? The Stilt ditched it the following year because it didn’t look cool and never averaged 50 per game again.

Mitch shot 60% from the free throw line during his rookie season and has steadily declined ever since. Something has to change. Robinson’s offbeat personality makes him ideally suited to adopt the Granny Shot. He loves to laugh, and the crotch-heave is sure to elicit some guffaws from the crowd. Oh, sure, like Wilt, he might chicken out because “Nobody looks fly when doing the Granny, baby.” (Possibly fabricated quote) Tough nuts, Mitch. If shooting underhand gets your free throw rate up to even 60% again, then coach Thibodeau should order you to do it and threaten to take your Morgan Wallen music away. (Maybe he should anyway . . . yeesh.)

Whenever Mitch goes to the foul line against Charlotte, let’s get a “Granny” chant going. I’ll start in my living room until my family throws things at me again. Together, you, me, and Mitch can fix this.