Seasons change, but some names on the worst free throw shooters in the NBA list don’t. Dwight Howard had an impressive 25-39 night for the Lakers in a win over the Magic, but that doesn’t improve his situation too much, being the player who costs his team the most points from the line this season.
While Howard’s name isn’t a surprise on this list, finding Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith is. While they were never exactly Mark Price or Steve Nash when going to the line, they’ve never been this bad, ranking with three centers who have always been this bad.
The bottom 5 in the NBA was made taking the worst free throw shooting percentages among players who have at least 3 free throw attempts per game this season, helping us assume they get to the line at least twice a night.
Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets – 57.9%
Iguodala is averaging 3.4 free throw attempts this season, which is slightly higher than his 3.2 from last season, but it’s interesting to see the gradual decline in his shooting percentage from the line as his tendency to get there becomes less and less frequent. He was a 82% shooter in the 2006-2007 season, when he attempted 7.3 shots from the line each game. As his trips to the line declined, so did his shot making rate, falling from the 70’s to the low 60’s last season and a career low this year so far. His worst this season was a 1-7 game against the Timberwolves on January 3.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets – 53.9%
Unlike Iguodala, there’s nothing new about Asik being terrible from the line with a career number of 51.2%. Unlike Iguodala, taking more shots hasn’t really improved things. He’s playing more than ever this season as the starting center for the Houston Rockets, getting to the line twice as much as he did for the Bulls, averaging four shots per game. The sad thing that just under 54% is the best of his career. While he’s had a couple of 11-14 games this season, proving that hack-a-Asik isn’t such a great tactic, he’s also had games of 4-11, 1-8 and 1-7.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks – 49.6%
Another peculiar case is Josh Smith, who is getting to the line 3.9 times in a game, a little bit less than in the previous season (career average of 4.6 attempts) but his drop from being a career 65.6% from missing most of his shots is quite extraordinary and can’t be simply explained by saying it’s his situation with the team. Smith made 63% of his shots last season and 72.5% two years ago. While he’s had one season of shooting under 60%, it’s never been this bad. His worst game was probably an 0-6 in a recent loss against the Lakers.
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers – 49%
When it comes to getting to the line, Dwight Howard is almost the best in the NBA. He’s third in the league in free throw attempts, averaging 9.3 per game, behind only James Harden and Kevin Durant. The next big man on the list is DeMarcus Cousins, taking almost four shots less per game. It also helps because there’s the hack-a-Dwight tactic deployed almost every night, as Howard costs the Lakers between four and five points a night.
Howard has slightly dipped in his getting to the line pace this season, in total (9.3 compared to >10 with the Magic) and per minute (9.5 attempts for 36 minutes compared with >10 for the Magic), mostly because his minutes have slightly dropped and he’s seeing less of the ball, not being as important as in Florida.
Howard is also a story of a decline that’s hard to explain – He shot 67.1% on his rookie season and around 59% in the next six. Last season it suddenly dropped to 49.6%, staying around that mark this season. Maybe it’s his back? He’s had plenty of bad games (like 9-21 and 7-19) but his two worst are two 3-14 performances, both losses, once in the season opener against the Mavs and another in February, losing to the Denver Nuggets.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers – 41.6%
Jordan continues to be terrible from the line, and although he’s not that of an important factor in his team’s offense like the other guys on this list, the Clippers could still make much more use of him if he’d add something to his offensive game beyond dunking and tip-ins. Maybe hitting his first career jumper will bring some sort of change.
Jordan made less than 40% of his shots during the first couple of seasons in the NBA, but he’s getting to the line more than ever before in 2012-2013, and he did make a career high 52.5% of his shots last season. This season, throwing 3.3 shots from the line per game, he’s back to abysmal numbers, which if avoided would have put him in double-figure scoring averages most likely. His worst game was probably a 3-10 night against Denver, or a 1-6 game in a win over the Bobcats.