Kings Won’t Win Without More Free Throw Attempts

Sacramento Kings Buddy Hield (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings Buddy Hield (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

One reason for the recent struggles of the Sacramento Kings is their inability to get to the free-throw line consistently.

After two bad losses over the last week to the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets, the Sacramento Kings certainly have plenty to improve on. Their defense has taken a step back, important players are navigating through shooting slumps, and the team needs to learn to gel with two primary options returning to the floor after extended absences.

But one area that needs a major improvement should the Kings want to remain on the playoff race is the volume of free throws that they shoot as a team.

A year after ranking a modest 21st in free throw attempts per game, Sacramento finds themselves dead last in that category this season with an average of 18.1.

Granted, De’Aaron Fox, who leads the team in free throw attempts per game, just returned from injury rehabilitation and should help increase the team’s numbers. But it is the rest of the team that struggles to find their way to the charity stripe.

Why Don’t The Kings Get To The Line?

It is not that the Kings are bad shooters from the line and are trying to avoid it. They rank 10th in the league in free throw accuracy, making nearly 79% of their attempts. It is simply the fact that they are not nearly aggressive enough in getting to the line, something that has cost them in a handful of games this season.

Against teams like the Knicks and Spurs, the Kings have seen big leads turn in to ugly losses, due in large part to the inability to seal the game with free points. Instead, the team has gotten complacent by shooting 3’s and limiting ball movement down the stretch.

In the game against New York, the Kings entered the fourth quarter nursing a seven-point lead. In that final frame, Sacramento shot 15 three-pointers while making it to the free-throw line just once, where Harrison Barnes made one of two attempts. The Kings lost by 3.

While getting to the line has never really been a part of Buddy Hield’s game, it might be about time that the integrated that skill into his repertoire. Hield averages just one trip to the line per game despite being one of the more accurate free-throw shooters in the league. This is something that can be improved, especially in tight games when the Kings should be attacking the basket instead of settling for long jump shots.

Not all is bad when it comes to the Kings and their free throws, however. Cory Joseph has not missed from the line this season despite being a 76.6% career shooter. Unfortunately, Joseph only gets to the charity stripe 0.7 times per game and is 18 for 18 on the season.

Next. Fox's Return Changes Hield's Game. dark

As previously mentioned, the return of De’Aaron Fox should help increase the Kings average number of free throw attempts amongst other things. Look for the Kings to be more aggressive in basket-attacking should they find themselves with leads late in games.