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Kyle Korver mentors Tristan Thompson on free-throws after practice

Tristan Thompson

The NBA’s defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers are currently in the midst of a slump. While they still hold the number one spot in the Eastern Conference, a three-game losing streak has a lot of analysts talking.

One of the reasons for Cleveland’s recent set-backs has been their poor shooting from the free-throw line. In their 116-112 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, the Cavs shot just 17-of-34 from the charity stripe, 25% below their already mediocre 22nd-ranked season average.

Today, after team practice, two members of the Cavs stayed in the gym at Cleveland Clinic Courts to hone their free-throw shooting – one as a mentor, the other a student.

Recently aquired marksman Kyle Korver and big man Tristan Thompson, who is known to struggle from the stripe, were on the court long after other members of the team departed. Chris Fedor of www.cleveland.com recants Thompson’s quotes in his recent article.

We just saw each other in the weight room and he said he had an idea for me,” Thompson told cleveland.com after Thursday’s practice. “Of course, Kyle is one of the best guys to ever touch a basketball and shoot it so if he’s willing to give me advice or give me something, I’m going to take it.”

Alongside assistant coach James Posey and player development coach Vitaly Potapenko, Thompson and Korver made their way to one of the baseline hoops to run through a few form techniques. Thompson later filled Fedor in on what sort of advice Korver was giving him.

Yeah, you know, just getting it up, getting the arc,” Thompson said. “I think that’s the key. He’s giving a couple pointers, but the key thing is getting it up and giving it a chance. The more of a line drive you shoot, the more perfect your shot has to be. So if you get it up and get some arc, it gives you a chance to make it in.”

Korver is one of the best mentors to have when it comes to free-throw shooting. The former Creighton Blue Jay has shot 88% from the free-throw line over the course of his career. Standing near the left elbow, Korver offered Thompson form and hand motion suggestions for over 20 minutes.

Thompson is a career 62% free-throw shooter, so it may behoove him to heed Korver’s advice. This season, Thompson’s free-throw percentage has fallen all the way down to 48%.

I think the last couple games we’ve been shooting from the line pretty bad,” Thompson said. “That can definitely bite you in the butt, especially when it’s crunch time and the going gets tough.”

“Everyone likes to say that’s free money. Especially a guy like myself, s—, gotta go knock down some free throws. I missed four. It’s free money. We have to go down and convert.”

Despite his struggles from the stripe, Thompson is clearly making an effort to improve. The 6’10” big man admitted to Fedor that he “sometimes thinks a bit too much” and that he “needs to step to the line with more confidence.”

You can always make changes,” Thompson said. “You can always make adjustments. Never too late. It’s up to the player. Do they want to make that change and build that muscle memory? Paul Millsap went from dunking the ball to shooting threes.”

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