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The myth of free throw shooting

Discussion in 'Colorado Basketball Message Board' started by Buffnik, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    We've talked before about how the number of attempts a team gets (pace adjusted) are correlated to victory, but that actual shooting percentage doesn't make a difference unless a team is an extreme outlier (positively or negatively).

    Fans like to harp on percentage. Mostly because it's the one thing that goes on during a game that we can look at and think we might be able to do better than the players. So it's frustrating when guys who have ability we can't hold a candle to can't make a simple 15 foot set shot.

    But is it really that big of a deal?

    Here are the Top 25 teams in the AP this week, along with where they rank nationally on FT%:

    AP RankTeamFT%FT% Rank
    1.Arizona.672t237
    2.Syracuse.687t191
    3.Ohio State.684t202
    4.Wisconsin.737t50
    5.Michigan State.705t140
    6.Oklahoma State.715t115
    7.Duke.718t97
    8.Wichita State.738t47
    9.Baylor.667t256
    10.Oregon.76115
    11.Villanova.716t101
    12.Florida.666260
    13.Iowa State.700t154
    14.Louisville.653t290
    15.Kentucky.665t261
    16.Kansas.680t215
    17.Connecticut.764t10
    18.Memphis.656t281
    19.North Carolina.624t328
    20.Colorado.720t87
    21.San Diego State.641t308
    22.Iowa.720t87
    23.Massachusetts.680t215
    24.Gonzaga.711121
    25.Missouri.715t106

    Not that it's going to make much of a difference, but CU is the 5th best team among the Top 25 in FT%. More importantly, our primary ball handler who goes to the line in endgame situations is about a 90% guy.
     
  2. jahbrahakala

    jahbrahakala New Member

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    Excellent (Two Standard Deviations): 81% - 77.4% --> #1 - 4
    Above Average: 77.4% - 73.2% --> #4 - 60

    Upper Average: 73.2% - 71.1% --> #60 - 118
    Solid Average: 71.1 - 67.0% --> #118 - 243
    Lower Average: 67% - 64.9% --> #243 - 290

    Below Average: 64.9% - 60.8% --> #290 - 337
    Really Bad: 60.8% - 57.3% --> #337 - 345


    makes more sens to me than rankings which usually should be the case
     
  3. Scotch

    Scotch Registered User Club Member Junta Member

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    Overall percentage is probably hyped too much. Its the last 5-10 minutes of a game where they matter. It can make the difference between a 1or 2 possesion game in the final minutes, which can be a big deal as we saw against ku.
     
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  4. DBT

    DBT Club Member Club Member

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    How do you factor misses on the front end of a 1&1?
     
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  5. chitownbuff

    chitownbuff Club Member Club Member

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    I hope whoregon drops in the rankings after this weekend.
     
  6. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    Agreed, overall FT % means much less than the primary ball handlers on a teams FT%. For example a guy like Wes who isn't a great FT shooter and pulls down the overall % of the team isn't going to be in the game at the end of a game when FT's matter. If a teams PG sucks at FT shooting you're in trouble.

    KenPom did a study on this a while back, I'll see if I can dig it up.
     
  7. OUBuff

    OUBuff American Club Member

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    Don't quote me on this, but I am pretty sure that FTs count for the whole game. It is very concievable that a team makes their FTs throughout the game and makes the more important FTs at the end of the game meaningless.

    Case in point is UNC's loss to Belmont this year. Shot 48% from the line, with 26 misses. No telling how many front ends they missed. They lost by 3. In this case, had they had a higher percentage through the game the important end of the game FTs would have actually been important.

    In their loss to UAB they shot 36% from the line. While they had only 11 attempts, had they shot twice as well... not exactly an unreasonable percentage for a highly ranked program... they are in OT. UAB shot 78%, 22 points from the line, a big part in their victory.

    FTs are not only a important at the end of the game to protect a lead, FTs are a way to put the foot on the throat of your opponent throughout. Consistantly hitting FTs is a good way to diminish the opponent's hope.
     
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  8. Mick Ronson

    Mick Ronson Well-Known Member

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    i'd rather see the rankings/ft shooting non correspondence as it were after conference season ends. and only for conference, or against only rpi top 100 teams. thus far into the season rankings are pretty meaningless given the OOC opponents. everyone is 11-2 playing mostly teams that a legit NCAA tournament shouldn't need FT's to beat. and usually at home.

    shooting less than about 65-70% as a team from the stripe will cost you games. and ranked teams are winning games for a lot of reasons, talent, superior coaching in most cases.....two evenly matched teams in the middle of the conf standings in the MAC...i think the team that makes it's FT's has a big advantage.

    are we talking about whether FT shooting % matters in the game of basketball as a whole entity is not a big deal....or for talent rich teams in an increasingly one and maybe two done NCAA top level team competition?

    if it's the former i think the burden of proof is still out there.....jmo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  9. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    FT's are always important, my point is that it matters a lot more what your shooting % of your ball handlers is than the overall team %, that has a much higher correlation.

    Here is the KenPom article I was remembering. (it does require ESPN insider, the article is from 2007 when it was perceived UCLA was a poor FT shooting team)

    A couple interesting excerpts:

    I'm not going to dispute that being a better free-throw shooting team is advantageous, but that advantage appears to be overstated. I think much of the reason can be attributed to the fact that, of all team stats, free-throw shooting has the least to do with the team. While all other stats have some team context associated with them, free throws are all about the individual. The team doesn't shoot any free throws, individual players do -- and with absolutely no help from their teammates.

    I think that type of analysis helps explain why team free-throw shooting is a poor predictor of close-game outcomes. On most teams, the ball-handlers are the best free-throw shooters, and the smart coach is going to encourage opponents to foul those guys in late-game situations.

    Overall, though, it appears that free throws don't affect a team's ability to win close games nearly as much as we think, and UCLA isn't significantly more likely to be vulnerable in close games than any other contender -- especially if Ben Howland finds a way to hide Lorenzo Mata when the Bruins need to protect a late lead.
     
  10. Quattro

    Quattro Banned BANNED Club Member

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    Player%MinFTRateFT%
    Spencer Dinwiddie78.389.4 (#1)87.1%
    Wesley Gordon5487.3 (#2)60.4%
    Josh Scott72.884.6 (#3)80.7%
    George King13.973.9 (#4)58.8%
    Dustin Thomas33.766 (#5)61.3%
    Xavier Johnson57.654.9 (#6)60.0%
    Jaron Hopkins42.434.8 (#7)43.5%
    Tre'Shaun Fletcher24.831.6 (#8)50.0%
    Askia Booker67.921.2 (#9)82.4%
    Xavier Talton37.118.8 (#10)77.8%


    Talton could really help us out if he could get to the line more when he's on the court. Granted, he's only had 9 attempts but he's made 7 of them. But two of the top three guys that get to the line are excellent FT shooters, I wish Ski would get to the line more but that's not really his game.
     
  11. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    Considering the importance of endgame ballhandlers being able to knock down FTs, it's going to be interesting to see who Tad goes with in 2014-15.

    Talton can knock them down. So can Ski (and we know he's clutch).

    Dom's shooting 79% for his high school season. http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/dom...g/gendersport/basketball-stats.htm#year=13-14

    This, more than anything, could make it so that a guy like J-Hop might start at PG but not be the guy who finishes games for us. He's got to get his FTs over 70% to even be considered for that role.
     
  12. OUBuff

    OUBuff American Club Member

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    You get no argument from me here.

    I know that these are excerpts and not your words.

    First bold... I don't think we do anything other than individual shots from the field either. I know they are speaking to assists, but the idea that shooting isn't an individual endeavor is silly.

    2nd bold... Well yeah, but isn't the same true throughout the game?


    I won't argue that a high FT% somehow equals victory, but doesn't a TEAM that shoots FTs well give the coaching staff more options in the way they play and create a dilemma for the opponent? Do you drive the ball to the rim with more confidence when you hit your FTs? Will you defend good FT shooters differently?

    What a luxury it is to have a big (Josh Scott) that can shoot FTs. Do you think the fact that he shoots FTs well influences the way that he is defended? Shouldn't a big that shoots FTs well be even more confident going to the rim? If FTs didn't influence the way the team approaches the game, why would Howland have to hide one of his players in crunch time? With 5 good FT shooters on the court in the end of game scenario, don't you have more options available?

    While the statistics apparently doesn't support my opinion, I think there is a mental aspect of FT shooting that goes beyond the numbers. A team hitting its FTs gains confidence as a team, not just as an individual. Of course, same can be said about good shooting in general.
     
  13. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    The reason that regular shooting isn't a completely individual thing is that a lot of easy shots happen from transition, good screens, put backs or teammates setting a guy up. There's a flow with that while a FT is just a guy standing alone on the line. That's why the statistics might say that a guy like Dre is a better shooter than Ski when that's clearly not the case. I think that's all JG is saying.

    Regarding the impact of FT shooting on games, I didn't start this thread with the idea that it was irrelevant. But I am making the point that it's not very relevant. All other shooting percentages, defensive shooting %, rebound rates (O & D), turnover margin and how often a team gets to the line all have a bigger impact on whether a team wins. But despite that, I speak to a lot of fans and read a lot of chatter on the boards that's focused on FT% even in games when the Buffs are over 70% (basically a Top 100 in the nation type performance at the line).
     
  14. OUBuff

    OUBuff American Club Member

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    It is hard to break the impression that we are shooting poorly from the line. One of the first games I saw this season, we missed quite a few. I looked at the percentages a week or so ago and was surprised how well they were shooting. As with many things, it is hard to change a bad impression.

    Obviously more points are scored from the field during a game, therefore more significant, but FTs still play a critical role especially in close games. I think you would agree that it is still well worth the time to practice the damn things and knock them down when you get the chance. Every point does count. In a one-point game you probably lament one of your team members missing a FT or two more than that rebound you failed to secure.
     
  15. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    All things being equal, I'd rather be a good FT shooting team than not. Of course.

    But that comes after a lot of other things for me. As long as we're rebounding well, playing good FG% defense without fouling much, drawing fouls on the opponent and taking care of the ball while forcing turnovers, I'd be happy if we were shooting in the high 60s on FTs... as long as we had a primary guard we can inbound to in crunch time and trust on the line.
     
  16. Slurpeee

    Slurpeee It's only a gambling problem if you don't win. Club Member

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    Interesting thread that has got me changing my perspective RE FTs.

    I like Tad's approach to coaching FTs as well. He doesn't. He tells the guys he won't talk about it when they shoot poorly... Same if they shoot well. He leaves it up to (expects) his players to be mature and workman-like enough to get their own work in on their own as needed, and take care of that part of their game on their own.

    I think that's consistent with Buffnik's point that while it is of course helpful to be able to shoot FTs well, there are other areas of the game that trump it in importance. Hence, when time is a precious resource that forces priority decisions in practice, Buffnik's rationale makes good sense to support the decision not to worry about coaching FTs on team practice time.

    Plus, I think if I were a player I'd appreciate the trust a coaching staff had in me not to micro manage every element of my game.

    (Sidenote: I love that feeling of utter confidence in crunch time when Mayor gets fouled. I immediately think to myself "sweet! There's two points")
     
  17. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    Pure FT shooting % really doesn't mean much, when Dean Oliver developed his "4 Factors of Basketball" - FT shooting % wasn't one of them. FTRate was (FTA/FGA), how often you get to the line as a team means a lot more than what your overall team FT% is. John Ezekowitz (who answered some questions for Allbuffs before the Harvard game) argued a couple of years ago that FT Rate maybe wasn't the best measure of offensive success, FT's made per 100 possessions may actually be a better measure of a teams offensive success.

    So if you look at CU's FTRate, FT's made per 100 possessions and point distribution coming from FT's you get a much different picture than FT%:

    FTRate - CU is 8th overall in the NCAA, getting to the line .558 times for every field goal attempted
    FT's made per 100 possessions - CU is 5th overall in the NCAA - making 31.126 FT's per 100 possessions
    Point distribution coming from FT's - CU is 10th overall in the NCAA - getting 28.4% of their points from the line

    FT% - 72% - 92nd overall in the NCAA

    We all get worried about a bad game from the line, but when you look into FT shooting as more than a mere overall team % you get a different story. CU is one of the best teams at getting to the line and making FT's on a per possession basis. CU has gotten to the line in every game this year more times than their opponent except for the Baylor, CSU and Oklahoma St. games, when you get to the line as much as CU does you don't have to have as high as an overall FT%.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
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  18. OUBuff

    OUBuff American Club Member

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    Curious... with all those numbers running through your brain, do you actually have time to enjoy the game? :lol:
     
  19. buffaholic

    buffaholic Club Member Club Member

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    I think these numbers just state that "getting to the line" and "high FT %" tend to be mutually exclusive. So when you look at teams, they tend not to be able to do both.

    And some of that is due to game-planning.

    I.E. - Tomlinson. He just wasn't dangerous enough to get fouled that often, except when time clock demanded it late in the game. So coaches instructed players - don't foul him. Whereas a guy like XJ driving to the basket - the instruction is no easy baskets. Put him at the line rather than give him a dunk.

    However, when you can combine a weapon like Spencer with his high FT%, it's damn effective. Foul him and you are giving up very close to 2 points per possession.

    Would Dinwiddie be nearly as valuable if he averaged 67% from the line?

    I think FT% is very important, but not as important as being long, athletic and explosive. If you got to choose one, you go with the latter most times.
     
  20. Ruckus

    Ruckus Peep my words. Club Member

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    That's not the right question. I want to know how his brain can still think about all these numbers after all the blood has left it for another location because he is thinking about all these numbers. You'd think it would be a catch 22.
     
  21. tante

    tante Club Member Club Member

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    He is probably a badass in a bedroom too.

    Honey if you arch your back 4 more degrees it will be 12% more pleasurable for me and 14% for you.
     
  22. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    The point isn't that getting to the line a lot and shooting a high % are mutually exclusive events, it's just that getting to the line at a higher rate is more important than shooting a higher %. Teams that have a high FTRate and a high FT% is clearly the best, but not what matters most.

    It comes down to this, would you rather shoot 50% from the line and go 15 for 30 or shoot 90% from the line and go 9 for 10?
     
  23. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    I only wish I was this cool
     
  24. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    I'm going to beat a dead horse:

    Tonight CU shot 39 FT's to Oregon's 21. Oregon made 16 of them shooting 76.4%. CU shot fantastically from the line, making 33 for 84.6%. So CU out-shot Oregon by 18 from the line. Everything else being held constant, CU could have shot 25-39 from the line (64.1%) and still won.

    The rate at which CU gets to the line is so much more important than the % they shoot once they get there.
     
  25. buffaholic

    buffaholic Club Member Club Member

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    Depends on what happens in those other 20 possessions where we don't go to the line. I'll sign up for 12 for 20 from 3 point range.
     
  26. jgisland

    jgisland Club Member Club Member

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    20 possessions?

    And what's the most efficient spot on the court to shoot from......go....
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  27. Quattro

    Quattro Banned BANNED Club Member

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    If only shooting 60% from deep was as easy as 'holic says it is


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  28. absinthe

    absinthe Ambitious but rubbish. Club Member Junta Member

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    Btw for numbers sake - we could have shot 66% from the line tonight, well into the bottom half of all NCAA teams and won by 1. Why you say? Because we got to the line that much.

    All of this also ignores the fact someone (moser - thier best offensive player tonight) fouls out why you get to the line at a stupid rate like we do.
     
  29. tante

    tante Club Member Club Member

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    most efficient

    #1 free throw
    #2 layup?
     
  30. Darth Snow

    Darth Snow Hawaiian Buffalo Club Member Junta Member

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    I sense a trap!
     

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