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Free Throw'd


I don't think we can expect to see 50+ FTA games on a regular basis but last night's free throw extravaganza reminded me of an important point that I have been making ad naseuem for the past two years: free throw differential matters in a big, big way and it has killed this team for a long, long time.  

In the 2007/08 season the Wolves averaged 6.9 fewer FTA/game than their opponents.  Last year they cut that number down to -2.3.  Last year also saw the club with exactly one player (Kevin Love: 18th) in the top 100 of FT/FG rate. The team's top two scorers finished at 103rd (Randy Foye) and 154 (Al Jefferson) in the same category. 

Ramon Sessions led the 08/09 Bucks with a 36 FT/FG rate that was good enough for 25th in the league.  By account of his college career (0.48 FTA/FGA in his sophomore year) and summer league (22 FTA in 5 games which was good for a .44 FTA/FGA rate) I think we have good reason to suspect that Jonny Flynn is going to be something of a free throw magnet. 

Where am I going with this?  The Wolves should have 2, maybe 3, players who draw fouls at a very high rate.  This is going to help the team in a lot of good ways. First, they won't leave as many points on the board as they did with a large negative free throw differential.  The more you can score with no time running off the clock, the better you are going to be.  Second, in an up-tempo fast-break offense, a large number of free throw attempts serves as a defensive equalizer: more fouls = less room for aggression from the opponent.  

If the Wolves can finally get out from underneath their long negative free throw differential drought, they may have a positive Four Factor bookend to their rebounding prowess.  If only they could get a handle on those turnovers while shooting better from the field.