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Pistons can share blame for team’s low free-throw percentage, but Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace are struggling more than usual

The Pistons’ 111-108 overtime victory against the Hornets on Sunday might not have been so dramatic if Detroit made more than 13-of-23 free throws. But that’s not a new problem for the Pistons, who rank 25th in free-throw percentage (.732).

Why do the Pistons fair so poorly in free-throw percentage? If each Piston had shot his career average on his attempts this season, Detroit would rank 14th (.761).

So, who deserves blame?

Percentage differences

Seven Pistons – DaJuan Summers, Tracy McGrady, Greg Monroe,* Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Charlie Villanueva – are shooting below their career free-throw percentage.

*To find Monroe’s career percentage, I included his attempts at Georgetown. I’m not sure how relevant they are, but I did it anyway. On one hand, it’s an aspect the game not directly influenced by the competition. Indirectly, though, exerting more energy to compete against NBA players could lower his free-throw-percentage.

Career percentages are blue, and season percentages are red.


Relative makes

The above chart doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Because of their limited minutes, Chris Wilcox’s percentage bump and DaJuan Summers’ percentage decline don’t have a large impact on the team’s percentage.

So, this chart accounts for how many attempts a player has gotten this year.

The blue is the number of free throws each player would have made had he shot his career percentage this year, and the red is the number of free throws he’s actually made.


Relative attempts

Another factor in the team’s percentage is who’s getting to the line.

I compared each player’s career free-throw attempts per minute (his expected attempts) relative to his free-throw attempts and minutes this season.

Players in blue are shooting above Detroit’s season free-throw percentage, and players in red are shooting above it.


Conclusions

  • The Pistons poor free-throw shooters – Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace – have been even more abysmal than usual.
  • Tracy McGrady, whose career percentage says he should lift the Pistons’ percentage, isn’t getting to the line nearly as much as he did before, and he isn’t shooting as well as he did before. Because of his knee issues, there’s no way he’ll get as many attempts, but I think he could make a higher percentage.
  • Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Will Bynum – each a better free-throw shooter than the Pistons’ average – aren’t getting to the line enough per minute.
  • Rodney Stuckey has done the most to help Detroit’s percentage.

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