November 26, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) takes a free throw against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers Lead the NBA in Free Throw Percentage

January 15, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 115-111 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As a team, the Portland Trail Blazers are shooting a league-best 81.8 percent from the charity stripe this season, with both active point guards (Damian Lillard & Mo Williams) shooting above 90.0 percent. For now, they share the honors with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are improbably tied with Portland on the shimmying shoulders of Kevin Durant; league leader in free throws made by nearly 50 already.

This sort of efficiency is an important reflection of why the Trail Blazers have experienced so much success on offense. Without defenders, without offensive sets, and without assistance, we’ve seen just how good they are at shooting in a vacuum. In the Trail Blazers’ standard rotation, only Thomas Robinson shoots below 70.0 percent from the line. This wealth of competent shooters translates well to actual game-time scoring.

The best part? The Trail Blazers have no liabilities in crunch time. More than that, they have numerous assets. If the starting five of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Robin Lopez are on the floor, their combined average from the line is 81.5 percent. How do you single out someone to foul late in the fourth when no one is the weak link? By that token, Portland feeds off of opponent desperation in close games.

 

Starter FT%:

Bench FT%:

Devoted Pine Rider FT%:

 

The Trail Blazers ended last season in a three-way tie for sixth best free throw shooting in the league, but with the personal +12.1% bump Robin Lopez has offered over J.J. Hickson, there is no reason for Portland’s new prowess to be unsustainable. Just one more crevice subtly spackled by general manager Neil Olshey. This specialty fits the aggressive new Portland squad nicely, as they attempt two more free throws per game, and convert at a higher rate.

 

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Tags: Free Throw Percentage Portland Trail Blazers Robin Lopez

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