Since arriving in Oklahoma City, the Thunder has seen a steady rise in a number of different facets of the game of basketball, and one area they have seemingly always been good is free throw shooting. Until last season.
In the Thunder’s first six seasons, the team ranked in the top 10 in free throw shooting each year, ranking 1st three times and 2nd twice. In the 2014-15 season, the team dipped to 14th in the league in free throw shooting, making 75.4% of their attempts, most likely due to Kevin Durant, one of the league’s top free throw shooters, being injured for most of the season.
In the 2015-16 season, the team made a small bounce-back to come in at 10th in the league as they made 78.2% of their attempts. Last season, however, was their worst free throw percentage by a long shot in the team’s 9-year history.
With poor free throw shooters like Andre Roberson (42.3%), Steven Adams (61.1%), and Jerami Grant (61.9%), it makes sense that the Thunder would fall all the way to 27th in the NBA in free throw percentage, knocking down a mere 74.5% of their attempts. This percentage hurt Oklahoma City even more considering they shot the 4th-most free throw attempts in the entire league, averaging 25.8 per game.
Due to a busy offseason, the Thunder’s chances of improving their awful free throw shooting are good. Paul George (89.8%), Patrick Patterson (71.7%), and Raymond Felton (78.1%) are all quality free throw shooters, and George especially should get plenty of opportunities at the charity stripe.
Free throw shooting is not often thought of as being one of the primary elements of winning, but when it comes down to it, you have to make your free throws.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.