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Is Rockets Chinanu Onuaku proving NBA is rewarding ego over fundamentals?

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Jan 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals center Chinanu Onuaku (32) reacts to a referee against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at McCamish Pavilion. Louisville defeated Georgia Tech 75-71. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals center Chinanu Onuaku (32) reacts to a referee against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at McCamish Pavilion. Louisville defeated Georgia Tech 75-71. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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The Board of Governors announced Hack-A-Shaq rule changes, but is Houston Rockets rookie Chinanu Onuaku showcasing reasons why these changes should be reconsidered?

Chinanu Onuaku the Houston Rockets 6’10” rookie power forward/center from Louisville is like many big men in the NBA these days. He struggled to hit his free throws witnessing his free throw percent dropping to 46.7% in 2014-15.

So, coach Rick Pitino approached him to offer a solution.  He had him view old NBA tape of Rick Barry throwing under hand free throws and the pair set out to correct his woes at the line.

What occurred is Onuaku improved to 58.9% and that was after just one season. While his percentage still could stand further improvements a 12.2% increase is a large jump.

This story comes at a very important time in the NBA as the Board of Governors just agreed to change the rules surrounding purposeful fouling of poor free throw shooters. Sure, the narrative is it hurts the game by slowing it down. But, are we missing the bigger issue?

Though it’s understandable why David Silver, the Board of Governors and fans don’t want to watch a constant stream of poor shooters, should the players who are doing nothing to improve be rewarded?  Is this simply a case of ego?

Onuaku is highlighting the need to delve deeper into the issue. Of the 3 main offenders: Dwight Howard (48.9%: the lowest of his career), DeAndre Jordan (43%) and Andre Drummond (35.5%) only Drummond has indicated a willingness to check his ego at the door and try the underhand toss.

For his part Onuaku told Shams Charania of the Vertical:

“I came to the notion that I don’t care what anybody thinks,” Onuaku told The Vertical. “As long as I get the bucket, the point, I’m fine. It’s up to other people to ask themselves why they don’t shoot underhand, but for me I needed to put pride to the side and make shots. I can’t worry about why other people aren’t doing it. It’s just a different form.” – Onuaku

Ultimately, the question has to be asked with players earning $20 million dollars a year, why is the Association putting their egos ahead of the fundamentals of the game?

If nothing else Onuaku is giving fans, the League and especially his competition food for thought!

SCS will update as free agency news develops. For now if you’re a fan who wants to follow free agency closely consider checking out my Free Agency Profiles for all 30 teams:

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Next: Free Agency Profiles for all 30 Teams

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