After watching tonight's game against the Wizards, I was pushed to my boiling point with regards to the Sixers and their general disdain for taking and making free throws. I felt that I needed to write my first fan post to vent. We all knew that they have been bad in all phases of the game related to the charity stripe, but I took it upon myself- masochist that I am- to really explore the numbers behind it all. What I found made me laugh (awkwardly). It made me cry (a lot). It was all around depressing. The conclusion I came to is this: the tales of the Sixers ineptitude in regards to free throws are greatly understated. That's right folks, they're actually much worse than we all thought they were.
Warning: The faint of heart should turn back now.
During my journey through the box scores of all 45 Sixers games to date, I recorded Free Throw Attempts by the Sixers in each game and the outcomes of those games. The resulting distribution looks as follows.
≤ 10 FTA : 10 games for a record of 5-5
10 < x ≤ 15 : 10 games for a record of 2-8
15 < x ≤ 20 : 10 games for a record of 3-7
20< x ≤ 25 : 11 games for a record of 7-4
≥ 25 FTA : 4 games for a record of 2-2
Upon first glance the thing that sticks out is nearly a quarter of the Sixers games have resulted in 10 or less Free Throws for the good guys. This is a putrid number that probably leads the league and who knows maybe it'll be some kind of record by the end of the season. Surprisingly, the Sixers have somehow managed to go 5-5 in those games and the game they had the least attempts (5 against the Hornets) was a win. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad if the next rung up wasn't almost a quarter of the games they've played as well.
On the other end of the spectrum the Sixers only have 15 games in which they've attempted more than 20 FTs but, as you can see, they faired much better than their overall record in those games. One more fun little oddity: the Sixers highest amount of attempts in a game is 32 and they've done it twice this season-- once against the Pistons, for 76 points (2nd lowest total) and a loss, and once against Dallas (W).
Now let's add a little perspective. The Sixers are averaging 17 FTA per game which is good for 29th in the league and only Orlando is in their rearview mirror with 16 FTA per game. The league average FTA per game is 22.3. This means that the Sixers have only bested the league average in free throw attempts in 12 (26.67%) of their games for a record of 7-5. However, as anyone who watches the Sixers knows, they're not just bad at getting to the line; they're bad at taking the shots once they get there. The Sixers are shooting 72% from the line which is good for 25th while the league average is around 75.4%.
But what are Sixers opponents averaging, you ask? Sixers opponents are taking 22.2 free throws a game and making them at a 76.39% clip. If you do a little math you will find that on average Sixers opponents are scoring 16.96 pts from the line in a game while the Sixers score 12.24 pts. That's good for a -4.72 pt differential from the line per game. The Sixers have a total point differential of -3.5 per game.
So what does all of this mean? Well for starters the Sixers are terrible at getting to the line, atrocious really. They're allergic to contact and as a result don't get to the line. They compound this with being almost as bad at shooting foul shots. Is there any hope for them to get better in this aspect of the game? I guess, with Bynum returning they might actually attempt the league average number of FTs. Without Bynum though there seems to be a few options for why they just aren't very good at getting to the line.
Option 1: Coach Collins has instilled an offensive philosophy that encourages the long two (ugh).
Option 2: The players we have are just not good at attacking the basket and drawing contact.
Option 3: The players are not getting the calls from the refs.
The way I see it, the lack of foul shots is a combination of 1 and 2 but 2 is more heavily weighted. Perhaps this isn't that shocking considering the Sixers front office decided to surround Bynum with shooters. Maybe Collins will be able to teach these guys how to draw contact better or maybe the Sixers need to just go out and acquire guys that can, but something has to be done because the Sixers point differential can be explained almost entirely by free throw disparity. What are your guys' thoughts on all this?