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.
Damian Lillard: 92.0% (115-125)
- Robin Lopez: 80.0% (44-55)
- LaMarcus Aldridge: 79.8% (99-124)
- Wesley Matthews: 78.5% (51-65)
- Nicolas Batum: 77.4% (41-53)
- Mo Williams: 93.3% (14-15)
- Joel Freeland: 87.5% (14-16)
- Dorell Wright: 73.7% (14-19)
- Thomas Robinson: 63.2% (24-38)
Devoted Pine Rider FT%:
- Meyers Leonard: 100.0% (6-6)
- Will Barton: 100.0% (2-2)
- Allen Crabbe: 66.7% (2-3)
- CJ McCollum: N/A
- Earl Watson: N/A
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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