Giannis Antetokounmpo was whistled for a 10-second violation at the free throw line during the Bucks game on Wednesday. It was the first time he had been called for that violation, but his unsurprised reaction says a lot — this had been a long time coming. Here’s the play.
We became aware of Antetokounmpo’s exaggerated free throw routine almost a year ago. Last December, Blazer’s Edge pointed out Portland’s Meyers Leonard silently counted (and later in the game, out loud to a referee) to 10 while Antetokounmpo prepared to shoot a penalty shot. In neither instance was Antetokounmpo whistled for a 10-second violation.
Antetokounmpo is an average free throw shooter, hitting 72.8 percent of his shots from the line through his four-year career, including 77.9 percent this season. But he’s also more comfortable shooting free throws using a long routine that often approaches or surpasses 10 seconds, which is illegal.
Last March, Antetokounmpo airballed a free throw in a game against the Boston Celtics. In a great story for Milwaukee Magazine, Eric Nehm detailed how Antetokounmpo quickened his routine after receiving a call about it from the NBA. It’s probably no surprise that Antetokounmpo shot 76 percent from the line before the All-Star break last year and 68 percent afterwards.
It seems the slow routine has crept back into Antetokounmpo’s game, and the NBA finally whistled him for it. (A player loses the ability to shoot a specific free throw attempt if called for this violation).
The other famous instance of a player struggling with this rule is Dwight Howard, a much worse free throw shooter than Antetokounmpo. You can see him being whistled for a violation here in 2010.
Orlando Pinstriped Post also wrote about Howard’s extended free throw routine back in 2011, noting three difference instances. Since leaving Orlando, Howard’s routine has changed enough that this issue rarely (if ever) occurs.
If Antetokounmpo feels he is a better shooter when he takes his time, you can hardly blame him for wanting to use a longer routine. But the NBA has warned him, and now they’ve potentially cost him and the Bucks a point by calling the 10-second violation. Clearly, this is a wakeup call that Antetokounmpo needs to speed up his routine.