After Ben Wallace left Detroit, the Pistons became one of the NBA’s better free-throw shooting teams. In the last two years, they’ve finished seventh and 13th in free-throw percentage – not spectacular, but solid.
But this year, Detroit has plummeted to 29th in the league. If all the Pistons were making their career average at the line, they’d be 12th.
So who’s to blame for the dropoff?
Allen Iverson is often painted as the scapegoat, but he’s shooting better than his career average.
In reality, there are two people to blame – Joe Dumars and Kwame Brown.
If Chauncey Billups’ season mark applied to the Pistons instead of Iverson’s percentage with Detroit, the Pistons’ percentage would 3.4 percentage points higher, and they’d be 17 spots higher in the rankings. So one of the downside’s of Dumars’s swap is big drop in free-throw shooting.
The other person to blame is Brown, and this one is much fairer.
Brown has shot a significant number of free throws – more than Rasheed Wallace (which says something about Wallace’s agressiveness).
If Brown had shot his career average at the line, just a lackluster 58.9 percent, Detroit’s percentage would be 1.2 percentage points higher, and the Pistons would be five spots higher in the rankings.
Now that Brown will return to the starting lineups on some nights, one of Detroit’s weaknesses will probably just get worse.
Check back for a preview of tonight’s game against the Raptors. There will also be a live blog for the game tonight, which begins at 7:30.