Last season, Andre Drummond was the worst free throw shooter in the NBA. On 365 attempts, he shot a dismal 38.9%, edging out the only other shooter in his vicinity (DeAndre Jordan), who shot 39.7% on 471 attempts. Mason Plumlee was the third-worst free throw shooter last year, and he shot 10% better than Jordan. Hack-a-Drummond become a viable and frequently used tactic against the Pistons, forcing Stan Van Gundy to pull the team's best player off the floor during important stretches. Fast forward to today, and I will show you the power of Small Sample Size Theater.
Through two games this season, Drummond is shooting 14-21 from the free throw line. I do not purport that this is sustainable, but there is something different about Drummond's form that extends beyond the confidence or luck. If Drummond can maintain a 66% free throw percentage, that not only makes Hack-a-Drummond an obsolete strategy for opposing teams, but it also makes his ceaseless effort around the rim and on the offensive glass more of a threat. In an effort to see what has changed, I have put his form from last year and this season side-by-side to see what's different.
Pose. Announcers will cite his confidence as the reason his free throwing shooting has improved and this stance is why. Drummond went from a player praying the ball will go in to one that trusts his fundamentals to do the work for him.
This may be a short-lived increase in efficiency from the line, but I would guess that he shoots in the 55-60% range this season. If he shot 60% from the line last season, he would have notched 77 more points for the team, nearly increasing the overall points per game by an entire point. That's a big deal. Caveats to the sample size noted, these improvements to his stroke, if they can be maintained, will see his shooting percentage jump significantly. Worst-case scenario will likely have him shoot in the 45% range this season, but that seems unlikely given early returns.