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Thunder Near Bottom of the League in Free Throw Numbers

Oklahoma City is 7-10 to begin the season, but could see improvement if they find more success at the free throw line.

The difference in wins and losses in any basketball game at any level of competition can usually come down to success or lack thereof from the free throw line.

For OKC the free throw line has been a detriment for the team in the first 17 games of the season.

While OKC ranks near the top of the league in some major statistical categories, the Thunder rank near the basement in free throw percentage and attempts per game. With a disappointing 76.4% from the line OKC comes in at No. 23 in the NBA from the stripe.

Only three Thunder players are shooting above 80% from the line. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is shooting 90.8%, Jalen Williams is checking in at 83.3% and Aaron Wiggins has recorded an 81.3% line to begin the season.

Only those three, Mike Muscala and Lu Dort are shooting above the team average, while most shoot below to well below the average. Kenrich Williams is the worst free throw shooter on the team to this point in the season with a 33.3% line.

Key Thunder starter Josh Giddey has improved his free throw shooting from his rookie season, but is still at a disappointing 72.2%. Giddey is the Thunder’s second leading scorer, but the Thunder’s sixth best free throw shooter thus far.

In the Thunder’s 10-point loss on Monday to the Knicks the Thunder did shoot 32 free throws, 12 more than the Knicks, but shot 78.1% making 25 of the attempts. Despite OKC taking 32 attempts on Monday, the Thunder on average get to the free throw line just 20.5 times per game, which is 28th in the NBA. The only teams reaching the line less are Golden State and San Antonio. On the other side of the coin, the Pistons are reaching the free throw line the most with 28.7 attempts per game.

Of those 20.5 times, 8.2 of them have come from SGA this season, including logging 13 of the Thunder’s 32 attempts on Monday.

Free throws are an undervalued piece of success that can take a team’s win and turn to a loss quickly. For OKC despite having success offensively at times they have struggled to get to the freethrow line this season, with the exception of Gilgeous-Alexander.

OKC is a game ahead of where they were last season with seven wins in 17 games, but improving their free throw shooting, and creating more opportunities to improve the mark over the rest of the season. 

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