Free throws are a fundamental aspect of basketball and an art that most players who compete at the highest level master by spending countless hours perfecting their technique. However, some guys in the Korean Basketball League are turning that particular part of the game on its head with a new strategy: bank shots.
The vast majority of basketball players approach free throws the same way: they step up to the line, go through their preshot routine, and attempt to get the ball into the basket without touching the rim.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the best free throw shooters in the NBA are also some of the best shooters period. Steph Curry currently boasts the highest overall career percentage at .9087, with other notable sharpshooters like Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and Peja Stojaković rounding out the top 10.
That group of elite free throw shooters also includes Rick Barry, the 6’7″ forward who set himself apart from the rest of the pack with the wildly unorthodox underhand approach he harnessed en route to making 89.31% of the shots he took from the charity stripe over the course of his career.
While that strategy seems to be pretty effective, it’s never been widely adopted thanks in no small part to players who simply aren’t a fan of the aesthetic (infamously awful free throw shooter Shaquille O’Neal once joked he’d “rather shoot 0% than shoot underhand”).
However, it appears some players in the KBL have found a happy medium with the bank shot free throws that have apparently started to take the league by storm.
This trend was brought to my attention courtesy of Eric Fawcett, who noted a number of KBL players are shooting more than 80% from the line while purposefully banking their free throws off of the backboard.
Interesting trend from the Korean Basketball League where a number of players are 80%+ from the free throw line shooting exclusively bank shots. pic.twitter.com/OBKmVW3pfa
— Eric Fawcett (@EricFawcett_) August 31, 2023
The logic is also pretty easy to follow: by targeting a specific area on the glass, you have a spot to consistently aim at and don’t have to deal with the comparatively unpredictable bounces that come with making contact with the rim.
It’s not entirely clear who led the charge, but it’s pretty clear a lot of the people who’ve adopted the bank shot are doing something right.