The Elephant in the Room: Bad Free Throw Shooting, Who's to Blame?

Late, Famous College Basketball Coach Rick Majerus once said,

To win the big games you must get to the free throw line, and then you must make them

This quote seems simple enough but it is so profound and yet so true. There is no clearer evidence of this than the Wizards right now. They are in a stretch that could be easily described as one of the biggest stretches of games this team has faced in quite some time. With every loss, the whispers of a complete overhaul of the front office and coaching staff become louder in the media's rumor mill, but the Wizards have yet to figure out how to fix one of their biggest Achilles' heel, which is free-throwing shooting. Currently they are tied as the 24th best free throw shooting team in the league with, yup you guessed it, the Portland Trail Blazers, who just beat the Wizards last night in overtime. All season long the Wizards and the Blazers cumulatively have similar statistics with free shooting attempts, makes and of course percentage, but last night in a game that was crucial to both teams, Portland shot 24-31 (.774) while the Wizards shot a terrible 11-23 (.478). The Wizards lost a very similar game on Saturday to the Indiana Pacers, where free throw shooting again made the difference in the outcome.

So this got me thinking, what is it about this team and their free throw shooting. Why does the whole team seem to struggle with this? To analyze this, the first thing I decided to do was to analyze three veteran players who have been here multiple seasons and see if they have dropped off since coming to Washington, compared to their previous team. Here are the results of that study:


Prior to coming to DC, Nene shot 67.8% from the free throw line

Since being in DC, he has shot 57.7% from the free throw line

Marcin Gortat

Prior to coming to DC, Gortat shot 66.9% from the free throw line

Since being in DC, he has shot 70.2% from the free throw line

Ramon Sessions

Prior to coming to DC, Sessions shot 79.7% from the free throw line

Since being in DC, he has shot 76.5% from the free throw line

The next thing I wanted to look at it, is the young core of Wall, Beal and Porter and see how their career free throw percentage compares to their college careers (although with Beal and Wall it's a small sample size for their college career)

John Wall

College Career (1 Year): 75.4% Free Throw Shooter

NBA Career: 78.4% Free Throw Shooter

Bradley Beal

College Career (1 Year): 76.9% Free Throw Shooter

NBA Career: 77.9% Free Throw Shooter

Otto Porter Jr.

College Career (1 Year): 75.1% Free Throw Shooter

NBA Career: 72.9% Free Throw Shooter

As you can see, there is no correlation here. There is nothing obvious that sticks out to show that players come here and regress with their free throw shooting, but it's clear that there is a problem with the way this team approaches free throw shooting, so the question then is, should it be up to these individual players to take steps to improve their shooting? Should the organization do more to encourage them to shoot better or is it the coach's job to correct their bad free throw shooting?

Credit: for NBA stats and for College stats

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.