Posted by Neil Paine on September 8, 2010
"Doing a little college basketball stuff, I came across Obi Muonelo, who plays for Oklahoma State. Looking at his stats, I was amazed to see that Muonelo was only a 58.9% free throw shooter, despite being a 42.6% three point shooter. I took my amazement to Twitter, and the great Tom Haberstroh let me know that this happens in the NBA too:
Tom’s list is an all-time single season list (and Bruce Bowen is featured a ton there), and it got me thinking. I decided to use this past season and take a look at above average three point shooters with at least 100 attempts (35.6%) and try to figure out why they are below average free throw shooters (76.2%)."
I always felt that FT% is the best indicator of pure shooting form, since unless the player resorts to a gimmicky, Rick Barry-style approach, it's just him, his mechanics, and a basket 15 feet away. Meanwhile, 3P% can be influenced by so many more factors, depending on the player's style of play and/or role in the offense; for instance, look at Jason Kidd's magical transformation from a guy nicknamed "Ason" to a 43% 3-point shooter (!!!) in Dallas. FT% is far less dependent on contextual effects, which seems to make it a better indicator of a player's underlying skill.