Mar 25, 2010, 6:15 PM EDT
The free throw line is the easiest place to get points in the NBA. However, there’s a bit of a paradox inherent in free-throw shooting. The guys who get to the line the most — gigantic centers like Dwight Howard and Shaq, along with bruising perimeter players — tend to be the worst free-throw shooters when they actually get to the free throw line. Conversely, the best free throw shooters tend to play out on the perimeter and rarely actually get themselves to the line.
The Thunder’s Kevin Durant is a different story. Thanks to his relentless basket attacks and cruelly effective “rip” move, Durant gets to the line a lot. Durant shoots 10 free throws a game, with only Dwight Howard and LeBron James averaging more. And when Durant does shoot free-throws, he makes them. Not only is this combination a key to Durant’s success, it’s downright historic. On Daily Thunder, Royce Young has a post up featuring an observation made by one of his commenters about Durant’s season from the free throw line:
“I can’t get over how good Durant’s been from the line. He’s now shooting .894 from the line after tonight’s game, and is one pace for 820 free throw attempts. If Kevin Durant manages to shoot 93.3% the rest of the way, assuming his FTA stay the same (possible, he’s shooting almost 95% in march) he’ll be at exactly 90% for the year. Reggie Miller shot 91.8% on 600 attempts in 1991 for the modern (post 1960) record for attempts while making 90%+. Durant will blow that out of the water if he keeps this up.
Barring a collapse at the line, I think it’s likely we’re witnessing arguably the best season ever from the foul line, certainly the best in the last 20 years. It may not be an exciting thing to keep track of, but it’s pretty amazing.”
Even if Durant doesn’t hit the arbitrary 90% barrier, he’s having a historic season from the line. Nobody has ever made this many free throws per game while shooting this well from the line. In fact, only Dolph Schayes and Magic Johnson have even come close. There are plenty of stats that show how Durant’s blend of size, athleticism, and skill make him a transcendent scorer. Looking at Durant’s free-throw accuracy and volume together is one of the most eloquent ways to show how Durant, at 21 years old, has already turned scoring into a science.