It hasn't been very long since Tristan Thompson blew everybody's mind and decided to switch from shooting with his left hand to shooting with his right hand. And although NBA training camp hasn't even started yet, he's already seeing some encouraging results from the switch. He's shooting 78% on free throws in international play for Team Canada this summer, including a 10 for 12 performance against Puerto Rico.
Update: Tristan Thompson is now 29/37 (78%) FTs right-handed over nine games. Was 58% career as a lefty.— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) September 1, 2013
That's an incredibly small sample size. He's shooting 78% on 37 attempts compared to 58% on 483 attempts in his NBA career. But this isn't a typical case of arbitrary endpoints. This is a very legitimate endpoint -- he's shooting with his other hand! The small sample size caveat still applies, but it's plenty reasonable to think that this is legit and not merely an outlier. His right-handed free throw stroke looks much smoother and he appears far more comfortable at the stripe. The awkward hitch in the shooting motion is mostly gone. 78% might be a little higher than what he'll actually shoot, but he's definitely better than the 60.8% that he shot from the line last season.
I've always been one of Tristan's biggest fans and I really am excited about him potentially progressing in his face-up game, midrange game, and scoring with his back to the basket. But let me make something clear: if this 20 percent jump in free throw shooting is the only thing that gets better from his hand switch, it was completely worth it. That's an unbelievable jump and you'd be surprised at just how much more efficient it makes him, even if he hardly improves any other part of his game. Of course, I don't expect him to stop here. He's one of the hardest workers in the NBA and he's obviously willing to admit his flaws and do whatever it takes to improve. Again: he switched his shooting hand in one offseason.
I don't think we've ever seen anything like what Tristan Thompson is trying to do. And that's awesome. The fact that he's seeing real results makes it even more awesome.
I believe Tristan still has some more games with Team Canada this summer and our resident Canadian, Justin, will be sure to keep us updated with how he performs from the free throw line. Hopefully he keeps it up and we see this kind of improvement into the Cavaliers preseason and beyond.