“Wizards not getting to the foul line,” read the headline on Michael Lee’s recent blog post. The post was about how the Wizards aren’t getting to the foul line. There were stats about how the Wizards aren’t getting to the foul line. Plus, it quoted Ted Leonsis, pointing out on his blog that the Wizards aren’t getting to the foul line.
So yeah, the Wizards aren’t getting to the foul line. Washington has attempted 73 free throws this season, 17 fewer than the next-lowest team. (That team, the Knicks, has also played one fewer game.)
Heck, the league average is 154 attempts, more than twice as many as Washington has taken. (Yes, most NBA teams have played at least two more games, but as Lee noted, the Wizards are also last in free-throw-attempts per game.) Heck, as the Bullets Forever crew pointed out, the Wizards are currently averaging the least number of free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt in NBA history.
And this isn’t a new issue. Over the last five seasons, the Wizards have ranked 24th, 12th, 24th, 20th and 19th in free-throw attempts. Leonsis has taken note of this issue repeatedly, and has repeatedly written that his team will not win without changing this free-throw trend. In case you’ve missed it:
Nov. 12, 2012: “We are getting out-shot via attempts at the charity stripe and we aren’t getting to the line enough ourselves.”
Nov. 11, 2012: “As the box score shows, we out-shot the other team, played even on most other statistical categories and lost at the free throw line by nine points. We were five of seven and they were 14 of 24. We lost the game by four points.”
Nov. 8, 2012: “We also need to earn the respect of the officials – and we will in time. We will never win out big games by being out-shot at the free throw line. Last night we were 6 of 7 at the charity stripe – while the other team was 28 for 34. A 22 point swing.”
March 30, 2012: “We go 16 for 25 from the foul line while the Pacers go 25 for 32. A 9 point differential from the free throw line – we lose by 4. Ball game. We need to go to the hoop more and draw more fouls, and hit those shots. Every point matters in close games.”
March 27, 2012: “We got more than doubled up again at the free throw line. 20 of 27 for Detroit and 9 of 14 for us. That doesn’t help.”
March 19, 2012: “We simply can’t turn the ball over 20 times in a game and be out scored at the free throw line by 15 and expect to win a game.”
Feb. 23, 2012: “The Kings were 25 for 27 from the foul line; the Wizards were 16 for 27. A 9 point swing in points from the foul line with the same amount of shots taken; we lose the game by 8 points.”
Feb. 2, 2012: “The Magic went to the free throw line 39 times and made 30 free throws. 30! We went to the line 9 times and made 7. We were outscored by 23 points at the free throw line; and we lost the game by 6 points. This is the second game in a row where the disparity of free throw attempts is startling.”
But it hasn’t always been bad.
Oct. 31, 2012: “Our free throw differential versus the opponent was acceptable this game.”