Poeltl's trade value comes with a catch, and it’s a big one.
Unfortunately, Jakob Poeltl is incapable of making free throws at an average rate. He belongs on the Mount Rushmore of NBA players who simply, for whatever reason, are never guaranteed to knock down a free shot.
To put it bluntly, a free-throw attempt by this man makes vintage Shaquille O’Neal look like Pistol Pete Maravich when taking a free shot at the basket from the stripe. Keep in mind, San Antonio knew this was a lingering issue before he joined the Spurs, but they hoped to develop several aspects of Poeltl's game that, at the time, were still very raw when the franchise signed him.
Evidently, Poeltl's free-throw shooting hasn't quite developed like the team probably hoped. And given the abundance of expertise in the association available to the players in this day and age, that's a bit discouraging. Even Shaq finally got the free throw thing down right (if you can call 62% on nearly 11 attempts per game "getting it down"). Sure, it took about a decade, give or take, but we give credit where credit is due.
Poeltl on the other hand? Not so much--or at least not yet. His free-throw shooting percentage got worse last season, dipping below the 50 percent threshold for the second time in his career. Despite that, our writers here at Air Alamo have advocated for Poeltl more than once, even boldly predicting the big man would solve his issues at the foul line, but that has yet to be seen. He's on pace for his best free-throw shooting season since entering the league despite the increased volume of shots, but he's still barely scraping 59% from the line.
So, where do the San Antonio Spurs go from here, and specifically, what do they do with Jak? Free-throw shooting is a critical facet of the game, particularly for competing teams down the stretch of tight games. And that pressure is exacerbated for those that play the center position, which happens to get fouled quite often.
Poeltl hasn't knocked down free throws consistently, however, and he's been in the league long enough to leave fans with little hope left that he'll ever turn it around in a significant way. But here's the burning question: even with the best parts of Poeltl's game in mind, does his free-throw shooting make him more of a liability than an asset?
Sadly, if the end of the Spurs' recent game against the Pacers is any indicator, it appears that way.