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Historic and current oddities with Beal's free throw woes


Historic and current oddities with Beal's free throw woes

It's not just that Bradley Beal is misfiring from the free throw line at an alarming rate recently. It's that the Washington Wizards' wing guard is an historic shooting anomaly for his career.

Improvements in Beal's overall game this season are clear, particularly since returning from his latest leg stress injury. Beal is averaging a career-high 18.5 points despite a dip in minutes because of the training staff's prescribed restrictions. The career 42.6 percent shooter from the field is at a personal-best 46.7 clip this campaign despite taking more 3-pointers (5.2) per game than any previous season. Attacking defenses off the dribble helps Beal get to the free throw line with greater regularity.

Yet while Beal's efficiency and aggressiveness have reached new heights, his current free throw percentage (73.9) represents a career low. This month, it's even worse at 65.5 (19 of 29). That's made odder because Beal's percentages from the field (51.5) and on 3-pointers (40) in February are strong.

Speaking of odd, let's get to the career numbers. One of the league's best pure shooters, Beal hits 39.9 percent* of his 3-point tries even though he takes his fair share per game (4.5). From the free throw line, he hits 77.8 percent.

According to data from BasketballReference.com, Beal and Dennis Scott are the only two players dating back to the 1946-47 season who over their careers shot under 80 percent from the free throw line and at least 39 percent of 3-pointers while attempting at least four from deep per game. If Beal doesn't miss six of eight 3's in Saturday's loss at Miami, the 3-point % bar jumps to 40 and Beal stands alone.

Having textbook form helps from distance. That's why overwhelming strong perimeter shooters are weapons at the free throw line. Clippers guard J.J. Redick, a 40.9 percent career 3-point shooter, hit at least 86% of his free throws in nine of his 10 seasons.

Including the current campaign, Beal has never topped 79 percent:

2012-13 (56 games): 78.6 (125-159)

2013-14 (73): 78.8 (149-189)

2014-15 (63): 78.3 (130-166)

2015-16 (33 to date): 73.9 (82-111)

Hitting 78+ percent from the line works. It's just that historically, a player with Beal's perimeter touch does better.

I used 4.0 3-point attempts per game because of Beal's 4.5 career average, but also typically, your better shooters take more. Even when lowering to 2.0 attempts and adding criteria of 225 games played (Beal's career total), the list includes just 14 players with teammate Jared Dudley among them.

Dudley, one of the top long-range shooters in the league this season, didn't enter the league as a 3-point threat; he shot 22 percent as a rookie. Three times Dudley finished seasons under 70 percent on free throws, though he's at 75.3 this campaign. No offense to Dudley, but based on form, these two shouldn't be in the same category. So, what gives?

One noted free throw shooting fixer offered a thought.

"Lower body injuries tend to hurt free throw percentage," Art Rondeau told CSNmidatlantic.com via Twitter.

Rondeau once gained some notoriety for helping Knicks standout Allan Houston. Having only watched the Wizards casually this season, Rondeau offered general thoughts on Beal's injury situation.

The 22-year has missed parts of all four NBA seasons with a leg stress injury.

"Primary reason for missing [free throws], in general, is either the body's response to losing balance or what [the] player will do to avoid losing it," Rondeau said. "Dwight [Howard] shooting flatfoot, for example.  Lower body injuries make it tougher to keep balance."

According to his current bio, Beal weighs 207 pounds, five more than at the 2012 NBA combine.

"And 5 extra pounds may have changed his center of gravity from what he's used to," Rondeau noted."

All we know for sure is that Beal is struggling on his free throws right now. Nene, a noted clanker, is sinking attempts at a higher rate (74%) in February. We also know that for his career, Beal misses more from the line than his deep threat peers. We see the overall improvements in his game. Taking advantage of the freebies is the next step. 

MORE WIZARDS: Two more available as Wizards search for 15th

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

An undiagnosed illness has convinced Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to step away from the team indefinitely, the team announced on Monday. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over in the interim.

Lue, 40, is hoping to address his health issues in time to return before the year is out. According to a statement on the team's website, he has been under the weather for quite some time.


Here is what Lue said on the matter in a press release:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

That is scary stuff and certainly much bigger than basketball. But the surprising news happens to come at a crucial time in the Cavs' season. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining before the playoffs.


The Cavs are just a half-game ahead of both the Wizards and Pacers in the standings. They will also have to reincorporate All-Star Kevin Love, likely sometime this week. 

That is a lot for Drew to deal with while Lue recovers and it adds another wrinkle to a Cavs' season that has been characterized by change.


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