Why ‘Granny Style’ Stopped Showing Up in the NBA

One Houston Rockets rookie is bringing it back.

By Michael MarksDecember 30, 2016 5:03 pm

It was a run-of-the-mill scene at Houston’s Toyota Center Monday night. That is, until toward the end of a blowout win over Phoenix when Houston Rockets rookie Chinanu Onuaku stepped to the free throw line for the first time in his NBA career. For the first time in over three decades, and NBA player  threw underhanded.

Bill Worrell and Clyde Drexler from the Rockets broadcast characterized it this way:

“This young man was shooting terribly from the free throw line at Louisville and he switched to underhanded after his freshman year. And he has gone from a bad free throw shooter to an excellent free throw shooter. You just don’t see young kids doing this anymore, but he can make them. He’s got a great touch. Two-for-two!”

If shooting “granny style” works for Onuaku, why is it so rare in the NBA? Adam Kilgore, sports reporter for the Washington Post, says it’s a big deal because the underhanded throw has been out of style – not that it was ever in style.

“It essentially hasn’t been seen in the NBA since 1980, since Rick Barry retired,” Kilgore says. “It was a technique that was used quite a bit at the dawn of the NBA as basketball was getting going as a bigger American sport and then went away, even though a lot of physics experts extoll it as the more effective technique.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why the underhand throw became less popular

– Who else has thrown “granny style” in their basketball career

– About the stigma of throwing underhanded