MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo has a plan to end his growing struggles from the foul line.
“It’s simple,” the reigning two-time MVP said Friday night after making just one of his 10 free throws in a 112-109 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. “Just go back. Shoot more. Focus on your technique. Take it step by step. Just shoot more. That’s it. The more you shoot, the more you work on it, the better you get. There’s no secret in that.”
Elias Sports also noted that the only other players to shoot 10% or worse from the free throw line in a game with at least 10 attempts are Andre Drummond, Al Horford and Shaquille O’Neal. Drummond has done it four times and O’Neal did it twice.
Antetokounmpo has made just 57.5% of his free throws this season after shooting a career-low 61.8% from the line last season. That’s a precipitous fall for someone who has a career average of above 71% and made 76% of his free throws as recently as 2017-18.
He’s continuing to play at an MVP level in every other respect, but the lack of accuracy from the foul line is concerning because he gets there so often. Antetokounmpo is 69-of-120 this season and entered Friday night’s action leading the NBA in free throw attempts.
Bucks forward Khris Middleton noted that many players go through tough stretches from the free throw line. Middleton noted that Antetokounmpo sometimes makes bunches of free throws in a row during practice.
“I don’t say much to him,” Middleton said. “I don’t want to get in his head and have him think about 1,000 different things. I think he knows what he needs to do.”
Antetokounmpo says it’s not a case of thinking too much when he’s at the line.
“I don’t think at the free throw line,” Antetokounmpo said. “I just shoot shots. I’ve done this since I was like 12 years old. There are players that probably think when they shoot or whatever the case might be. I just go to the free throw line and say the stuff I say always to myself, try to have a good technique and just try to shoot the ball high and give it a chance because most of my [missed] shots are short.”
Video footage of Antetokounmpo working on his free throws after the game circulated on social media late Friday night. That work ethic helps explain why the Bucks remain confident he’ll eventually improve from the line.
“He’s just got to keep working through the free throw line, continue to put the time in, grow his confidence and step up and make them,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.