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Oklahoma City Thunder: Back to No. 1 at the foul line

by Berry Tramel Modified: December 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm •  Published: December 23, 2013

The Thunder lost to Toronto 104-98 Sunday night. Bummer. But there was a silver lining. The Thunder returned to its usual spot atop the NBA’s foul shooting list.

The Thunder made 35 of 36 foul shots against the Raptors, raising its foul shooting percentage to .826, best in the league.

Which is nothing new. The Thunder has led the NBA in free throw percentage the previous three years: .828 in 2012-13, .806 in 2011-12 and .823 in 2010-11. And the year before that, the Thunder shot .805, second-best in the NBA.

Amazing foul shooting over five years, several seasons within distance of the Boston Celtics’ NBA record of .832, set in 1989-90.

Had the Thunder survived Toronto, I was going to write about the foul shooting. The Thunder had no business beating the Raptors but dang near did anyway, because it was so efficient from the foul line.

There’s no secret behind the Thunder success. The Thunder gets to the foul line a bunch, and the guys who get there the most, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are consistently excellent at the line.

Durant’s seven seasons, going backwards: .887, .905, .860, .880, .900, .863, .873. And that’s shooting more foul shots than any other player in the league.

Westbrook’s six seasons: .795, .800, .823, .842, .790, .815, and that’s again shooting a ton.

James Harden was a great foul shooter, and so was his replacement, Kevin Martin, and though Circle K didn’t shoot nearly as many foul shots as Harden, Martin’s replacement as sixth man, Reggie Jackson, is shooting .941 from the line.

Jackson only averages 1.9 foul shots per game, but that should go up as Jackson continually attacks the basket. Jeremy Lamb hasn’t shot much, just 13 foul shots, but he also hasn’t missed. Derek Fisher is 18 of 19. Thabo Sefolosha is 19 of 22. Serge Ibaka is shooting .788 and Nick Collison .765.

Even Kendrick Perkins has made 16 of 24 from the line.

The Thunder is virtually automatic from the foul line. The Boomers get fouled often and then they convert. It’s one of the reasons they’re the Western Conference favorites.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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