Even all of the basketball skills are hyped and parsed on one NBA draft – Scoring, 3-point shooting, rebounding, rim protection, playmaking – It was striking to hear television analysts focused on Emmanuel Quickley’s foul shooting last week.
A day after the Oklahoma City Thunder took Quickley with the 25th pick, Quickley’s college coach John Calipari in Kentucky also noted his former player’s shooting skills of dishonesty in a television interview.
“The kid can flat-out,” Calipari said of Quickley’s shooting ability.
Quickley led Kentucky, and was third in Division I last season, with a 92.3 percent rate from the free-throw line. He missed more than one free throw in a game only once last season.
But, free throws? Is the team really picking up players due to its free-throw shooting?
off course not. After all, Calvin Murphy shot more than 90 percent from the line in six different seasons – twice leading the league – in his Hall of Fame NBA career and could probably still make 9 out of 10 today. But he is 72 years old and is unlikely to return. Also, you can’t win the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Award in 2020 like Quickley did.
But good free throw shooting is often a sign of good overall shooting ability.
Havre de Grace, MD, a 6-foot 3 guard from Quickley, was recruited as a point guard in Kentucky, and committed some offense there. He also played the ball and led the team with 16.1 points per game in 2019-20. An average of 4.8 of those points came from the foul line.
Quickley inherited the impeccable free-thrott shooting from his mother, Nitri Quickley, who played at Morgan State in Baltimore. Nitri Hamilton, as she has since become known, led Morgan State, shooting free-throws in both seasons, which she averaged 72 percent in her junior season in 1995–96 and 80.3 percent in her senior year. Of shooting. When the time came for a technical dishonesty, it was one that was sent to the line.
A teacher for 22 years and now Harford County, Md. Nitri, a vice principal in the US, said that she had been coaching her son’s Recreation League team since she was 6 years old and that she still has a trophy in her basement to lead the league. Free-throw shooting. Nitri said that he had to talk to his son to go to the gym at night.
“He said it was time to work,” she said in a telephone interview.
Nitri taught Immanuel as a target to take out the “W” shape in the net under the target, to bring his arm to the proper 90-degree angle, keeping his feet balanced and following through. He also emphasized the need for piercing mental focus.
“You need to learn to stop the crowd,” he said. “Immanuel made it clear that he didn’t hear us cheering in the stands, and when it was time to shoot those free throws, he was focused, and that’s the biggest key to his success.”
In fact, a good deal of pressure can dominate shooters standing on the line for upheaval and the entire arena void on them to gnaw the asuras for bubbles on the surface. But Quickly proved that he could handle it.
In February, Kentucky was embroiled in an SEC fight against Mississippi State, but Quickley drilled eight straight free throws in the final 47 seconds, allowing the Wildcats to catch the Bulldogs (he made all 14 of his free-through attempts that night). Helped.
There is at least one recent example of a good free-throw shooter from Kentucky going to success later. Quickley’s free-throw percentage was the second-best in past Kentucky history, behind only Tyler Harrow, who shot 93.5 percent from the line in 2018-19. A year later, Harrow was the breakout star of last season’s NBA Finals for the Miami Heat, providing 3-point shooting.
Quickley’s percentage on the foul line last season was more than the best college season from the best free-throw shooters in NBA history. Topping that list was Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who shot 89.4 percent in his best year at Davidson.
Missing a free throw is like removing easy points. If Shakeel O’Neill shot 70 percent from the line during his career instead of 52.7 percent, he would have averaged 25.3 points per game instead of 23.7.
Houston Rockets’ James Harden has led the NBA in free-throw attempts seven times in the past eight seasons. If he had shot them as well as Quickley last year, he would have scored an average of 35 points per game instead of 34.3.
To get in line consistently like Harden, a player must draw an offensive threat and contact. Quickly did it as a sompomore after a disappointing new year, and then a slow start to the most recent season.
“I was able to get through that in Kentucky,” he later said at a video news conference, “so I think I can achieve anything that comes my way.”
According to the NBA, Quickly does the things most liked in today’s league, Kalipari said, especially driving in the lane without the help of a screen. Quickly leads the Wildcats with a 42.8 percent 3-point rate, so teams will have to honor his shooting, which is what Kalipari means by dragging the court.
The Knicks could also use help. They finished 27th out of 30 NBA teams in 3-point shooting, and were last in free-throw percentage.
Calipari also stated that whatever Knicks project as a professional for Quickley would eventually surpass it due to his persistence and maturity, for which Calipari attributed Quickley’s family.
“If you have a good foundation, when things go wrong, you don’t let it come into your world,” Calipari said. “He’s going to be able, even with setbacks, to climb.”