Why Some Korean Basketball Players Love the Bank Shot

Banked free throws, an unorthodox technique, have a cult following in the Korean Basketball League.

As the basketball player steps to the free-throw line, the crowd watches in hushed anticipation. With one sweeping motion, he bounces the ball off the backboard and through the net.

Wait, he banked it in? On purpose?

The fans erupt in celebration. The shot is no fluke — just another free throw, South Korean style.

The free throw is supposed to be an easy point after a foul: a direct, unguarded shot 15 feet from the backboard. But there’s an art to it. The ball, most players and fans would say, should leave the fingers gracefully, make a wide arc, avoid the rim — and “splash” straight into the net, as the N.B.A. sharpshooter Steph Curry called it.

With the help of analytics, other shots have evolved in pro basketball. But not the free throw, and over the past 30 years, its success rate in the N.B.A. has barely budged from around 77.

The shot’s stagnation stems from the mockery that awaits any variation to the “nothing but net” technique in the United States. Bank shots — bouncing the ball off the glass before it falls through the net — are derided as amateurish for anything but layups.

But a devoted group of players in the Korean Basketball League, or K.B.L., have embraced the unorthodox technique.

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Source: Basketball -


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