Drummond practices free throws with little to show for it

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Salt Lake City — More than any time this season, Andre Drummond has been thrust into the spotlight. Even more than the spotlight, it became a sideshow when Drummond shot 36 free throws last week in the win over the Rockets.

Hack-a-Drum was in full effect.

But even in setting a new NBA single-game record with 23 missed free throws, Drummond wasn’t discouraged. During one stretch, he made 6 of 8 and got into a relative rhythm in shooting.

“When you shoot so many, it’s bound to happen that you’ll get into a rhythm and I found a rhythm down the stretch of the game and it kind of helped out for us,” Drummond said. “There’s nothing wrong with my mechanics; it’s just confidence in shooting the ball and taking the same shot every time, even when I miss.

“I do the same routine every time and trust in the shot.”

It’s been an Achilles’ heel for Drummond, though — one that has forced coach Stan Van Gundy to pull him from the ends of games, fearing that other teams would do exactly what the Rockets did.

Drummond’s been working since the summer on improving his form and mechanics, but the results just haven’t manifested yet. Although he’s at a career-worst 35 percent on free throws this season, it’s not because he’s not trying to improve.

He consistently shoots dozens of free throws at the end of practice each day and said works on his own to try to find a stroke that works best for him. He said he hears the comments but dismisses the jeers that he needs to work on his free throws more — or even worse, make drastic changes to his form.

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“Nobody knows what I do on a daily basis and how long in the gym each night I shoot free throws,” he said. “They see the outcome and I’m not shooting well right now so they feel like I don’t take the time to do that. I probably take more time than people do on their jobs. For somebody to say that is a little disrespectful to me.

“I’m going to keep working on my game and when that day comes, they won’t have anything to say.”

Drummond had a hot streak early in the season, with 8-of-11 against the Jazz and 6-of-10 against the Hawks in the season opener. Since then, it’s been a struggle.

Asked about suggestions on social media he should try shooting free throws underhand, Drummond said that he’s comfortable with what he’s doing and that he’s hoping to get into a better routine as the season progresses.

“I’m going to keep working on my game and when that day comes, they won’t have anything to say,” he said. “I don’t respond to Twitter. I’m going to shoot the shot that I want to take and whatever is comfortable for me.”

Awaiting word

After finishing fifth in the All-Star fan voting for the starters, Drummond said he wasn’t disappointed with the results. He still has an opportunity to be selected when the reserves are announced on Thursday.

With his free-throw woes, Drummond doesn’t think that played into his drop from the top three initially, but he’s just going to wait and see if the coaches think he’s worthy of an All-Star nod.

“I wasn’t voted in; it’s a fan thing and they voted for the guys they wanted to see,” Drummond said. “I can’t control that. All I can do is control what I can do with my team now, which is win games.

“When that time comes, if I’m picked, fantastic; if not, I have more work to do.”