Quick, name the Piston’ worst free-throw shooter this season.
If you said Andre Drummond, you’re wrong.
Charlie Villanueva (32 percent) is actually shooting worse from the line than Drummond (37 percent).
Drummond’s struggles were expected – though he’s showing modest improvement after shooting under 30 percent at Connecticut – but this is pretty surprising for Villanueva, still a 78 percent career free-throw shooter.
The Cavaliers even intentionally fouled Villanueva during their comeback attempt Friday. He made 3-of-8 to actually raise his free-throw percentage. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
Villanueva just shook his head Saturday when asked about it.
"Wow, that’s disrespectful by Byron Scott," Villanueva said jokingly. "By the numbers, good move.
Why are Villanueva’s numbers so poor? Villanueva, apparently a data cruncher, explains a big reason, via Ellis:
I haven’t gotten (many) attempts.
Yes, small sample size is a key factor, and there’s plenty of time for Villanueva to revert to his career norm. But this downturn is a bit concerning.
This is Villanueva’s worst-ever 25-attempt stretch from the free-throw line. His previous worst came during the first 25 free-throw attempts of his career, when he made just 11. In fact, he hasn’t had a stretch worse than 17-for-25 since joining the Pistons.
I’m still attributing this mostly to sample size, but considering it’s unprecedented for Villanueva, there’s at least a decent chance these numbers have some meaning.