During Monday night’s Wizards game in Phoenix, Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net pointed out the regression from year to year for JaVale McGee’s from the free-throw line. This downward trend from the charity stripe is a little surprising and definitely unexpected.
When young players come into the league we all share the expectation that they’ll improve as they gain experience and gain coaching, and JaVale McGee specifically has gotten better over the course of his four NBA seasons — however slow the progress may be. But it’s the free throw percentage that has gotten steadily worse. As a rookie, McGee shot 66% from the line, in his second season he shot 63.8%, last year in his third NBA season he was 58.3% from the free throw line, and now this year through 32 games he is shooting a paltry 48.4%.
JaVale rarely does anything consistently, just look at this season. In his best season to date, we’ve seen stretches of play where he’s shown All-Star potential and we’ve seen stretches that were equally as bad. We’ve seen post moves that he’s never shown in the past and we’ve seen fifteen foot hook shots and mid-range jumpers. So the fact that he has consistently dropped his free throw percentage from year to year is impressive, but far more disappointing.
However, McGee isn’t the only Wizard to struggle at the line this season. Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, and Andray Blatche have all seen their free throw percentages drop compared to last season.
In 26 games with the Wizards last year, Crawford shot an impressive 88.5% from the line in 78 attempts. This year he’s shooting 76.4% in 89 attempts. Meanwhile his 3-point percentage is up from 23.8 to 27.3 percent and his field goal percentage only dropped from 39 to 38.1 percent.
Trevor Booker has been the Wizards’ second best player this season in my opinion — and at least the third best behind John Wall and maybe JaVale McGee. As a rookie year last year he started 14 games, and he’s at 14 starts on the season right now as well. He shot 67.3% last year from the line, and this year he’s at 57.1 percent — although it should be noted that to date he has taken 52 less free throws than he did a season ago. On the bright side he’s improved his field goal percentage to 56.5 percent from 54.9 in 2010-2011.
The man we love to boo and the man Trevor Booker has replaced in the starting line-up due to a calf injury, Andray Blatche, has also seen a regression at the line from 77.7 last year to 69.2 percent this year in his seventeen games played. Then again, he’s regressed literally everywhere.
The good news is it isn’t all doom and gloom when it comes to foul shots. The starting backcourt of John Wall and Nick Young each improved from last year’s free throw percentages. John is attempting almost one more foul shot per game this season and is shooting 80.4 percent from the line — an improvement of 3.8 percent.
Meanwhile, Nick Young is eighth in the NBA at 88.4 percent from the line. This is Nick’s fifth year in the league and he has never shot worse 80 percent at the foul line, and this year is easily his best. His previous best was 85% in the 2008-2009 season, his second in the NBA.
Going back to the negative again. . . as a team the Wizards are 24th in the NBA at 72.7 percent shooting free throws.
As we enter the second half of the season let’s just hope for some improvement, and no more of these.