THE ART OF DRAWING JUMP SHOT FOULS
There is an art to drawing fouls, particularly on jump shots.
Whether it is Chris Paul or Jamal Crawford or any number of the top scorers on the wing, they consistently find a way to get to the free throw line. Paul and Crawford do it on jumpers seemingly as well as anyone.
According to Synergy Sports, Crawford is awarded free throws on 2.1 percent of his jump shots, the third highest percentage among players with at least 100 field goal attempts in the league. Paul, according to Synergy, gets to the line on 2.0 percent of his jumpers, good for fourth in the league.
Paul, who is 137-for-157 (87.3 percent) from the line this year uses a rip through move when he senses a defender leaning over him. Crawford (84-for-101, 83.2 percent) is more about sensing a defender’s proximity when he’s already in the air.
He talked about the difference between how he and Paul draw fouls on jump shots.
“I think Chris is such a student of the game,” Crawford said. “He understands when the team is in the bonus and things of that nature. He understands what spot to get to on the court. He knows by the second or third time how a defender is playing. So, if he’s too close, he’s like ‘Hey, let’s run this play.’ He gets us in position and helps our team because it gets us extra points without fighting the defense.”
Here is a look at two plays recently where Paul rose for a jump shot and brought the ball up through the defenders arms to force a foul call.
Notice how it as much about Paul’s feet as anything. He feels the defender in the first clip (Cory Joseph) trying to force him to a help defender on the baseline. He pivots to face the basket with Joseph still to his right and whirls the ball from left to right into a faux shooting motion.
The same thing happens against Deron Williams in the clip that follows. Williams is trying to force Paul left, and gets too close to him. Paul pivots with the ability to dribble still available and swings through Williams’ right arm with a similar move to what he pulled off against Joseph.
Crawford draws fouls in a different way, he says.
“For me, I try to adjust in the air. I try to see where my defender’s at while I’m shooting, and kind of adjust to that.”
Crawford is the league’s all-time leader with 40 career 4-point plays in regular season and playoffs for that reason. It was something Crawford picked up from watching Reggie Miller and mastered over his 13 years in the league.
Here are four recent jumpers by Crawford where he drew contact after leaping in the air.
The first one is his only 4-point play this season. You’ll see as Jimmer Fredette closes out hard, Crawford is already in his shooting motion but takes advantage of the close out by leaning slightly forward into Fredette. He does something similar on runner against Brooklyn’s Alan Anderson two clips later. He drives past Anderson, jumps to take a 14-footer and leans back into him to draw contact and does it again against Kyrie Irving on the next clip. As he mentioned, Crawford is already in the air when he feels the defender and draws the contact.
“There’s definitely an art to it,” Crawford said. “[Chris and I] do it in different ways, but we’re both effective doing it. I think it keeps the defender guessing because they don’t know if they’re too close or not, and if they’re not, usually we get a good clean look.”
For a team building towards the postseason, being able to take advantage of bonus situations is something Crawford and Paul thrive on. It is a way to earn easy points.
“That’s huge because with that, you know that teams, especially how scouting is now, everybody knows everybody’s plays, and it’s hard to get any kind of points in the NBA,” Crawford said. “So, if you can get points when nobody’s guarding you, you have to take advantage of that.