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Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards: 1/14/08 - Recap: The Shot Doctor Edition

There are a lot of ways I could go with this recap:

  1. Kendrick Perkins' surreal behind the back dribble.
  2. Tony Allen's time machine dunk and relentless pursuit of rebounds.
  3. The Washington Wizards' resilience.
  4. Ray Allen's health or lack thereof. As Tommy Heinsohn pointed out, Allen is no longer getting to the rim with any consistency. Remember how surprising that aspect of his game was back in November and early December?
  5. How happy it is around Bullets Forever.  
  6. How disappointing this loss was. Gilbert Arenas is out, the C's were at home and they had just lost to the Wizards. What a downer.
However, ultimately I decided to focus on Dave Hopla. He's a 50 year old shooting extraordinaire, currently employed as an assistant coach by the Wizards. Greg Dickerson focused on him tonight during one stoppage of play and this Howard Fendrich article gives some of his ridiculous feats. I bring him up because Washington shot a ridiculous 90% (27-30) from the line. Below I have listed every player who has played significant time for the Wizards this season along with his career and season free throw percentages. Check out the nearly across the board increases.  

Gilbert Arenas - Career FT%: .809, FT% This Season: .753.
Caron Butler - Career FT%: .847, FT% This Season: .895
Antawn Jamison - Career FT%: .730, FT% This Season: .767
Brendan Haywood - Career FT%: .606, FT% This Season: .717
DeShawn Stevenson - Career FT%: .695, FT% This Season: .761
Antonio Daniels - Career FT%: .796, FT% This Season: .817
Roger Mason - Career FT%: .906, FT% This Season: .958
Nick Young - FT% at USC last season: .786, FT% This Season: .847
Andray Blatche - Career FT%: .686, FT% This Season: .717
Darius Songaila - Career FT%: .838, FT% This Season: .964
Dominic McGuire - FT% at Fresno State last season: .586, FT% This Season: .000

Some points of interest:

  1. Only Arenas and McGuire have lower percentages from the line than their career averages. And they are both interesting cases. A young Arenas (age 12 or 13), as the Fendrich article notes, saw the shot doctor at a camp. Hibachi actually credits Hopla for the improvement of his shot. However, Arenas' numbers this season are somewhat misleading, as he was obviously not healthy. Meanwhile, McGuire is clearly a bad free throw shooter. And somehow he only has two free throws in 28 games this season. That's amazing.
  2. Haywood (6-6 tonight) and Blatche (3-4 tonight) are now more than respectable from the line, particularly for big men.
  3. If I were involved with the Nets or Magic organizations I would throw ridiculous money at Hopla to get him to tutor Josh Boone or Dwight Howard. Boone is downright awful. But Howard is shooting a shade under 61%, which is even more damaging given the fact that he has been to the line 464 times already this season. The Magic should think of it the same way Mark Cuban does. If the Magic already have $85 million invested in Howard what is a little more in someone that could transform the biggest weakness in Howard's game. And if not Hopla, someone.
  4. I have a friend who has seen Hopla on a few occasions. Apparently the shot doctor has been shopping himself around for some time, trying to get a gig with an NBA team, to no avail. Finally the Raptors allowed him to get his foot in the door last year. And now the Wizards are reaping the rewards.
  5. Organizations, bloggers, fans and mainstream media obsess about every single bit of minutia surrounding a team. And yet shot coaches have yet to catch on in the NBA. Weird.
  6. My high school basketball team lost a game by 3. In said game my players missed an astonishing 16 foul shots. Unfortunately I probably can't afford a personal shot doctor clinic. Hopefully he still does camps in the summer. Regardless, I will be looking into anything I can find about him in the off-season. I'm already excited by "Hand in Face", "Manute Pole" and "The Silent Partner", which can be found in Fendrich's article at the top of the post. Okay if you're that lazy here it is again.

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