Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dwyane Wade's Decline at the Free Throw Line



Why is Dwyane Wade only getting half as many trips to the free throw line as he got before LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the Miami HEAT?

This question started with a tweet...



The table below lists Wade's free throw attempts per 36 attempts for each season of his career.

Season Age G FTA
2003-04 22 61 5.3
2004-05 ★ 23 77 9.2
2005-06 ★ 24 75 10.0
2006-07 ★ 25 51 10.0
2007-08 ★ 26 51 8.6
2008-09 ★ 27 79 9.1
2009-10 ★ 28 77 9.1
2010-11 ★ 29 76 8.3
2011-12 ★ 30 49 6.6
2012-13 ★ 31 69 6.4
2013-14 32 30 4.9
Career 695 8.3
Generated 1/19/2014.

Wade's free throw attempts dropped from 9.1 per 36 minutes in 2010 to 4.9 per 36 minutes this season. That's a 46% decline and it's not just because he's taking less shots.

The table below lists Wade's free throw rate (the number of free throw attempts per shot) for each season of his career.

Season Age G FTr
2003-04 22 61 .391
2004-05 ★ 23 77 .578
2005-06 ★ 24 75 .568
2006-07 ★ 25 51 .556
2007-08 ★ 26 51 .498
2008-09 ★ 27 79 .443
2009-10 ★ 28 77 .465
2010-11 ★ 29 76 .471
2011-12 ★ 30 49 .355
2012-13 ★ 31 69 .389
2013-14 32 30 .318
Career 695 .472
Generated 1/19/2014.

Wade's free throw rate (number of free throw attempts per shot) is down 32% from 2010 to this season and it's not because he's less aggressive getting to the rim.

Wade took 37.4% of his shots at the rim in 2010 and 38.8% of his shots are at the rim this season.

Wade's shot distribution in 2010

Wade's shot distribution this season

If the issue with Wade's decline getting to the free throw line isn't the number of shots he's getting or where he's getting them, maybe it's HOW he's getting those shots.

In 2010, 62% of Wade's offensive attack came in pick-and-rolls (29%), ISOs (19%) and transition (14%), according to mysynergysports.com. In fact, those were the three most frequent plays used by Wade from 2010-2013.

This season, only 48% of Wade's offensive attack comes in pick-and-rolls (23%), ISOs (11%) and transition (14%). The less Wade's gotten into pick-and-rolls, ISOs and transition this season, the less he's gotten to the line.

In 2010, Wade drew shooting fouls on 13% of his pick-and-roll, ISO and transition plays, which was good for 4 free throw attempts per game. This season, Wade only draws shooting fouls on 7% of those plays for an average of 1 free throw attempt per game.

In 2010, Wade got to the free throw line as a ball-dominant player attacking in ISOs (13.5% of plays drew shooting fouls), transition (13.4%) and pick-and-rolls (12.9%).

This season, Wade gets to the free throw line as an off-the-ball player attacking with post-ups (17% of plays draw shooting fouls), cuts (12.3%) and spot-ups (10.8%). The problem is that cuts and spot-ups only rank 4th and 6th on Wade's list of most frequently used plays.

In 2010, Wade's 3 best plays for getting to the free throw line were the plays he used the most (62% of the time). This season, Wade's 3 best plays for getting to the free throw line are plays he only uses 37% of the time.

In order for Wade to turnaround his decline getting to the free throw line, it seems he will have to become as aggressive as he used to be in pick-and-rolls and transition or become even more of an off-the-ball player with cuts and spot-ups.

If Wade doesn't figure out how to increase his trips to the free throw line, the good news for HEAT fans is the team won the title last year with the lowest free throw attempts per game average in the last 50 NBA Finals (see the spreadsheet below).



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