Kings are the 2014-15 free throw champions
Ignore the win-loss column. This season, the Sacramento Kings reign victorious.
Behold the free throw champs. Sacramento led the NBA in free throw attempts (29.3) and makes (22.3) per game, only the second time in franchise history the feat was accomplished. No team could even come close to the Kings’ dominance at the charity stripe, as they led second-place Houston in attempts by three and Minnesota in makes by two. While the Kings ranked 10th in the league in free throw percentage (76.2), it was a small cost for a much larger sample size.
Equipped with an incredibly athletic roster (every player could dunk on the opening-day squad), the Kings attacked the paint without abandon. Sacramento slashed and crashed its way to seven performances of 40-plus free throw attempts, including a season-high 50 in Denver on November 5.
All-Star DeMarcus Cousins was the driving force behind the Kings’ supremacy at the line with a career-high 9.2 attempts per game (third in the NBA) and 78.2 percent accuracy. His attempts average was the most from a King since the fearless Kevin Martin six years ago (10.3). Thanks to his quickness, strength and nearly unguardable post moves, Cousins drew 10 free throws or more in 26 of 59 games played.
Cousins wasn’t the only player to earn personal accolades. In attempts per match, Rudy Gay (5.8), Darren Collison (4.1), Omri Casspi (2.9), Ben McLemore (2.0), Ray McCallum (1.2) set career-high. In free throw percentage, Gay (85.8), Casspi (73.3), Reggie Evans (61.9), Quincy Miller (72.7) reached career-bests. Carl Landry was 0.4 percent away from tying a career-best in free throw aim from a season ago.
Success at the stripe was largely dependent on the personnel, but also the gameplan. Under head coach Michael Malone in the first 24 games, the Kings scrapped the 3-ball and took nearly every opportunity to drive to the rim. The result was a staggering 32.2 free throw shots a night on 77.7 percent shooting.
When Tyrone Corbin supplanted Malone, attempts fell to 27 per game on 76.8 percent accuracy in 28 contests as Sacramento launched more jumpers.
With George Karl for the final 30 games, the Kings bounced back to average 29.1 free throws but made only 74.3 percent, an issue the coach pinned on late-season fatigue.
Despite the late slump, free throws accounted for more than one-fifth of Sacramento’s points this season. Karl would like to see more of the aggressive play, having compared the free throw’s value to a layup and 3-pointer earlier in the season.
While an expected offseason roster overhaul may makes the year’s figures unsustainable, expect the Kings to continue sacrificing their bodies in the paint for the near future. Referees’ compliance is another question, but for now, the team can bask in the glory of a free throw championship.
See the Kings’ free throw statistics below.
|FT makes p/g||FT attempts p/g||FT attempts per 36 min||FT %|
*FT = free throws
**p/g = per game
***Number in parenthesis is games played this season
****Career-highs in bold