What's Buzzing:

Ball Don't Lie

Tristan Thompson is shooting 20 percent better on free throws after changing shooting hands

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

View photo

.

Tristan Thompson looks towards a possibly bright future (David Liam Kyle/ Getty).

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson is currently undergoing a transformation that may be unprecedented in the history of the highest levels of basketball. As noted in mid-August, the third-year pro decided to switch shooting hands from his left to his right to improve his performance. Naturally ambidextrous and only 22 years old, Thompson has both the ability and youth to make this work. Still, it's just not something people usually do.

Somewhat surprisingly, Thompson appears to be seeing immediate returns on his switch. With Team Canada preparing for and now playing in the FIBA Tournament of the Americas, Thompson has had nine games to try out his stroke. As tweeted by Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet, he's doing quite well from the free-throw line (via PBT):

Team Canada is 2-1 with a fourth game set to be played against Uruguay on Tuesday, so it's important to remember that this is a small sample size with especially few games played in what could be considered a particularly competitive environment. On the other hand, these are real games, which means the typical dip in free-throw form from practice to in-game action may not be relevant. Plus, free throws would seem to have less variability relative to sample size than other shots, if only because players can more easily approach each attempt in the same way.

That factor also suggests that Thompson's move may not have an across-the-board positive impact. While a 20 percent jump in free-throw shooting constitutes a meaningful improvement, he presumably made this switch for his entire arsenal of shots. If, say, Thompson doesn't develop a consistent stroke from 15 feet, then the move is significantly less major.

Nevertheless, Thompson is clearly doing something right, and he deserves credit for exploring every option to improve his game. The question, of course, is if a mid-career change such as this one can have a lasting effect. It's a story worth keeping an eye on throughout the coming months.

View Comments (176)
  • Big shots: Cavaliers set NBA record by making 25 3-pointers

    Wearing headphones and sweats, J.R. Smith, the one Cleveland player without any restrictions on where or when he can shoot, finished his pregame warmup by stopping near half-court and launching a shot. On Wednesday night, Smith and the Cavaliers … More »

    AP - Sports - 13 minutes ago
  • With Lowry faltering, Dragic flourishing, Heat seek 2-0 lead

    It took the Toronto Raptors 15 years to get this far again, and Kyle Lowry knows they won't go further if he doesn't play better. The Raptors need Lowry to play the way Goran Dragic is. With Lowry faltering and Dragic flourishing, the Miami Heat … More »

    AP - Sports - 33 minutes ago
  • NBA-LeBron tells Cavaliers to soak up record night

    LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers team mates have bigger fish to fry but the superstar implored his men to enjoy their record-breaking night on Wednesday. The Cavaliers knocked down an incredible NBA record 25 three-pointers in their 123-98 … More »

    Reuters - 34 minutes ago
  • Cavs take long-range approach to big win over Hawks

    Cavs take long-range approach to big win over Hawks

    (The Sports Xchange) - LeBron James scored 27 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers made a record 25 three-pointers to pound the Atlanta Hawks 123-98 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Ten Cavs made … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 6 minutes ago
  • NBA-Cavs take long-range approach to big win over Hawks

    LeBron James scored 27 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers made a record 25 three-pointers to pound the Atlanta Hawks 123-98 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Ten Cavs made three-pointers, led by J.R. … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 20 minutes ago