Free throws have been anything but free for the Los Angeles Lakers so far this season. The team is shooting a league-worst 70.8 percent from the line. Rookie point guard Lonzo Ball in particular has struggled, shooting a team-worst 46.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton isn’t really sure why, and recently said the team is working to address both issues. “We’ve been doing a ton of free throw shooting in practice the last couple of days. I think we’re killing our chances of winning with the percentage we’re shooting from the free throw line,” Walton explained.
The Lakers’ free-throw woes are a significant factor in their 28th-ranked offensive efficiency, especially because the team takes the 11th-most free throw attempts of any team in the NBA.
The Lakers’ issues at the stripe are even more confusing when factoring in that they don’t really have any obvious candidates on their roster who should shoot an abnormally low percentage.
Players are simply missing free throws they naturally earn during the flow of the game. Making the problem even more baffling is that the Lakers are apparently hitting their freebies in practice.
“Guys are hitting them. Now it’s about mentally being ready to take on that challenge of hitting them in games,” Walton said.
As for Ball’s struggles, Walton hinted at what he believes may be the reason. “I thought especially in Sacramento, he wasn’t taking his time at the line,” the second-year coach said. “Those are all things that he’s working at. He hits them in practice.
The Lakers’ offensive issues aren’t going to fix themselves, especially not when they’re also the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA.
Eventually one of those two percentages is going to have to come up if the Lakers want to improve their toothless attack and with Walton wanting his team to shoot fewer threes, improvement will probably have to come from the line.
Wednesday’s game could serve as a building block, as the Lakers made 20 of 25 free throw attempts.
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