Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: A closer look at the free throw disparity

Hybrid View

  1. #1

    Default A closer look at the free throw disparity

    I was going to post this in the last post-game thread but it started growing and growing so I figured I'd make my own thread about it. One of the last posts in that thread referred to how bad the FT disparity has been the last few games. I couldn't agree more. Without even looking, I was pretty sure we'd be dead last in the league in that stat, and it looks like that's a fact:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/stats/by..._2008&sort=237

    -Over 18 games we've shot 129 less FT's than our opponent, for a -7.1 differential/game.

    -Over the last 4 games, we've shot 71 FT's to our opponents' 148... a difference of 77, or a ridiculous -19.25/game.

    -We've shot more FT's than our opponent in only 4 games this season (only 2 of which were a significant margin).

    -We have not attempted 30 or more FT's in any game thus far. We have given up 30 or more FT's in 6 games. Of those 6, we have given up more than 40 FT's twice.

    We currently attempt the 3rd most FGA/game of any team (86.3), and have the 6th best FGA/game differential (+2.7). Since more possessions inherently *should* lead to more chances at FT's, it must mean we're shooting more perimeter shots per game (differential) than our opponents. Indeed, we are #7 in the league in 3PA/game differential (+2.5), behind the Cavs (+2.9), Spurs (+4.6), Blazers (+4.6), Hawks (+5.9), Magic (+9.7 (!) ), and Knicks (+13.3 (!!) ).

    I wondered if those six teams also see the same FT disparity we see, and got some mixed results. Below is those teams' FT/game differential, followed by their team FT%, and their league rank in FT%...

    Knicks: -2.0 ___ 78.6% ___ 6th
    Magic: +6.7 ___ 71.6% ___ 30th
    Hawks: +0.2 ___ 75.0% ___ 25th
    Blazers: +0.7 ___ 76.8% ___ 13th
    Spurs: +0.3 ___ 74.7% ___ 26th
    Cavs: +2.0 ___ 77.5% ___ 11th
    Pacers: -7.1 ___ 78.1% ___ 8th

    Obviously, the Magic and Spurs get most of their FTs from their dominant bigs plus Tony Parker, but it causes them to suffer in FT%. Of all the teams listed, the Knicks play the style closest suited to the Pacers, and even though they're in the negative differential, it's still not nearly as bad as -7.1.

    I'm not sure there's really a point in all of this... I got sidetracked here at work while typing it and I have to clock out & leave now. I just thought some of these stats were interesting, and even though the Pacers deserve to be in the negative, I really think -7.1 is a bit on the ridiculous side.

    Btw, love the new site design!

  2. #2
    100 Miles from the B count55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,772

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    On FGA differential, it's important to keep in mind that more FTA's mean fewer FGA's for the opponents. If it's a shooting foul, the FGA only is counted if the basket is made. If it's a loose ball foul in the bonus, then, in many cases, there's no FGA on that possession. Therefore, you have to be careful about using FGA differential as a surrogate for possession differential. I'd have to chart it to be precise, but I'd feel pretty confident that the additional 7.1 FTA's that the opponent are getting is costing them, statistically, 2 to 3 FGA's per game.

    82games.com has some good numbers, but they're aggregate. Through 17 games, the Pacers have averaged 97 Offensive Possessions per game and 96 Defensive Possessions per game. The Pacers have an Offensive Turnover % of 16 vs. a Defensive % of 15. That costs the Pacers a net one possession per game, so the net possessions are even at 81 between the Pacers and their opponents. (That is possessions that end in a made basket, a missed basket, or FT's.)

    As to the jumpers, it's certainly true, but I'm not sure to what degree. While we definitely take more 3pters, in total and as a % of total attempts, than our opponent, 82games.com indicates that only 65% of our shots are "Jump" shots, while 69% of our opponents shots are "Jump". Problem is, I'd need to see game by game numbers so that I could compare the charting to the FT differentials. Also, this is susceptible to the same skewing that I noted in the first paragraph. It's almost certain that these percentages are based on official FGA's. If that's the case, many of the fouls were probably taken trying to prevent "close" shots, thereby suppressing their numbers.

    The Pacers, as currently constituted, are probably going to be below average in FTA's. They really only have two players that I would consider "good" at getting into the lane on a regular basis: TJ Ford and Marquis Daniels. Unfortunately, neither of those guys is particularly effective at creating contact and drawing fouls. We really don't have anybody who can "move" the defense, and the more you "move" the defense, the more fouls you're likely to draw. Therefore, the focus has to be on defensive position and reducing fouls. At least, if you want to reduce the differential.

    However, in just checking numbers, I found something kinda funky. In our 11 losses, our opponents have shot 308 FT's, for an average of 28 even. In our 7 wins, our opponents have shot 200 FT's, or 28.6 per night. Our FTA differential was -5.1 in the wins, -8.5 in the losses. While that appears to fly in the face of my comment about the key being reducing Opp FTA's, there are two huge outliers in the victories. In our wins against Boston and LA, they shot 35 and 45 FTA's, respectively. (As a side note, we have not shot more than 29 FTA's in any game this year.) Take those two out, and the opponents have only averaged 24 shots a night in our other 5 wins.

    There appears to be no magic bullet in the numbers. I still think that the last few games has to do with a combination of better competition, getting more spread out due to more effective opponent shooting, particularly from 3, and just being out of position. We may have to pick our poison, shrink the defensive perimeter, and let them have more uncontested three's and deep two's.

  3. #3
    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Chicago
    Age
    45
    Posts
    17,000

    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    Quote Originally Posted by count55 View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    They really only have two players that I would consider "good" at getting into the lane on a regular basis: TJ Ford and Marquis Daniels. Unfortunately, neither of those guys is particularly effective at creating contact and drawing fouls. We really don't have anybody who can "move" the defense, and the more you "move" the defense, the more fouls you're likely to draw.
    Daniels has the Vern Flemming-esque ability to fininish in traffic, but he twists around to avoid contact while still maintaining balance and control.

    Ford has the Travis Best-esque ability to get to the rim but his prayer (or shot, if you're being generous) is easy to block or alter without fouling, so I don't think he gets a sympathetic whistle from the officials. And when his layup isn't contested, he doesn't always finish at a high percentage anyway.

    The rest of the team stands still and shoots, so they aren't getting to the line.

    I get tired of the pretense that the foul discrepancy is attributed to unjust officiating. Its a reflection of style of play, aggression/ softness, and that we have few players consistently capable of drawing fouls - especially shooting fouls - and getting to the line.

    So I find myself agreeing with the Count's premise for the 55,555,555th time... this is really an outcome of our personnel and strategy and not necessarily bias. Although, the bias may confirm the personnel and strategy issue and perhaps magnify it slightly.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  4. #4
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Daniels has the Vern Flemming-esque ability to fininish in traffic, but he twists around to avoid contact while still maintaining balance and control.

    Ford has the Travis Best-esque ability to get to the rim but his prayer (or shot, if you're being generous) is easy to block or alter without fouling, so I don't think he gets a sympathetic whistle from the officials. And when his layup isn't contested, he doesn't always finish at a high percentage anyway.

    The rest of the team stands still and shoots, so they aren't getting to the line.

    I get tired of the pretense that the foul discrepancy is attributed to unjust officiating. Its a reflection of style of play, aggression/ softness, and that we have few players consistently capable of drawing fouls - especially shooting fouls - and getting to the line.

    So I find myself agreeing with the Count's premise for the 55,555,555th time... this is really an outcome of our personnel and strategy and not necessarily bias. Although, the bias may confirm the personnel and strategy issue and perhaps magnify it slightly.
    Jay, where can I get a pair of those rose colored glasses that you are wearing?

  5. #5
    100 Miles from the B count55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,772

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I get tired of the pretense that the foul discrepancy is attributed to unjust officiating. Its a reflection of style of play, aggression/ softness, and that we have few players consistently capable of drawing fouls - especially shooting fouls - and getting to the line.

    So I find myself agreeing with the Count's premise for the 55,555,555th time... this is really an outcome of our personnel and strategy and not necessarily bias. Although, the bias may confirm the personnel and strategy issue and perhaps magnify it slightly.
    I think that there are major things that influence the way officials call games. These are, strictly speaking, biases, but probably should not be considered nefarious. I have no statistical data to back these impressions up, but they are based on watching the NBA for 30 years now. You're welcome to discount them as you like, but I would be surprised if other veteran NBA watchers would really disagree with them.

    These are, in no particular order, as follows:

    1. The flow of the game: A team that is on a roll will tend to get the benefit of a whistle (or a no whistle). This most often happens on the defensive end. If a team is in a run, and shutting down the opponent consistently, they will be less likely to be called for a foul. An example from the Lakers game: With 1:27 left in the third, Ariza tipped the ball away from Danny. Danny chased it down and was about to control it, when Ariza came over, clearly threw his shoulder into Danny, knocking him away, picked up the ball, went down and dunked to make it a 10-0 run. It was a pretty obvious foul out in the wide open, but no call. (I should note that when the Pacers were making their comeback, there were a couple of "no calls" that certainly would've been whistled on the P's had they occurred during the Laker run.)

    2. The expectations of the officials (and the players and fans): This covers reputations and quality of teams. The more physical a team is considered to be, the more physical they'll be allowed to be. If a team blocks a lot of shots, then they'll get the benefit of the doubt on goal tends and minor contact.

    As to the quality of the teams, if there's a large differential, then it will influence the expectations. The good team will be expected to make good plays, and the bad team will be expected to screw up. The Pacers benefitted from this throughout the '90's and early 00's, but they're on the flip side of it now. (BTW...both sides know this, and act accordingly. Good teams expect to get calls, bad teams don't.)

    3. The quality of the player: Again, reputation. If LeBron James makes an unbelievable play, everyone just says, "Wow!" If, say, Stephen Graham, does, then people assume that it couldn't have been on the up and up. If Kobe misses a bunny in traffic, he was probably fouled. If Marquis does, then he may or may not have been.

    These last two are primarily the result of the speed and scope of the game. Even with three officials, it's difficult for them to see everything. Even if they're in position, they often have to be looking at the right place at the right time. Therefore, there are a lot of times they're calling what they think they see, or what they assume just happened.

    However, I believe that officials will call what they clearly see the vast majority of the time. An example would be Roy's block of Kobe the other night. He was clearly set, he kept his hands up, and the officials who saw it had no choice but to not call a foul.

    Yes, bad calls get made. Yes, reputations and qualities of teams and players have an influence on things like FT differential. However, I think it is very minor, and if your team is giving up too many free throws, then the solution will lie in improving your defense and committing fewer fouls..not in some perceived injustice being perpetrated upon you.

  6. #6
    Member OakMoses's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Montana
    Age
    36
    Posts
    3,031

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    I don't know if you could study this or not without spending hours debating the operational definitions involved, but I wonder about free throw differentials for teams without a dominant star or marquee talent. There have been multiple plays this season where Granger or Daniels or Rush or Ford has driven to the rim, had their shot altered or blocked, and I've thought "If that was LeBron, Wade, Kobe, etc., they'd be on the free throw line right now."

    Since the Pacers lack those types of players, I wonder how many calls they don't get.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that star treatment from referee's is my least favorite thing about the NBA.
    "A man with no belly has no appetite for life."

    - Salman Rushdie

  7. #7
    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Chicago
    Age
    45
    Posts
    17,000

    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    John Conlee.

    I borrowed his back when Lee Corso was coaching the Hoosiers. But I returned them for the Sam Wyche era and when Woodson slipped away to Purdue. Tried to dig them out while Anthony Thompson was there, but haven't needed them since.

    But these rose colored glasses
    That I'm looking through
    Show only the beauty
    'Cause they hide all the truth

    Seems to me that my current glasses show only the truth and hide the beauty. Not sure they really are rose-colored?
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  8. #8
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: A closer look at the free throw disparity

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    John Conlee.

    I borrowed his back when Lee Corso was coaching the Hoosiers. But I returned them for the Sam Wyche era and when Woodson slipped away to Purdue. Tried to dig them out while Anthony Thompson was there, but haven't needed them since.

    But these rose colored glasses
    That I'm looking through
    Show only the beauty
    'Cause they hide all the truth

    Seems to me that my current glasses show only the truth and hide the beauty. Not sure they really are rose-colored?
    One of my all time favorite songs. So, where do I get those truth glasses?

Similar Threads

  1. The Official Pacers Digest F.A.Q. Thread
    By Hicks in forum Indiana Pacers
    Replies: 81
    Last Post: 09-02-2013, 05:30 PM
  2. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 11-08-2008, 05:23 PM
  3. Free Throw Issues
    By OakMoses in forum Indiana Pacers
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-08-2008, 06:08 PM
  4. Kobe misses key free throw as Nets clip Lakers [ESPN]
    By RoboHicks in forum NBA Headlines (RSS Feeds)
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-26-2007, 03:00 AM
  5. Billups' late free throw carries Pistons over Hawks [ESPN]
    By RoboHicks in forum NBA Headlines (RSS Feeds)
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-05-2007, 01:00 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •