I just landed in Vegas, the place to be this time of the year. During the next three days I will be coaching at the KPA Summer League in the Convention Center. Later on, I will attending the TPG Pro Scout School while staying at the Hard Rock Hotel. Let me if you’re around and want to share a coffee, I’m an addict (for the ☕️, not the 🎰)!
Staring at the ceiling at 5AM in the morning due to the jetlag, made me reflect on the past NBA Finals.
The Raptors shook the world in grabbing their first title by breaking the hegemony of Golden State. The Warriors are held accountable by most of us for turning nowadays basketball into a “bomb or dunk” style of play, while eliminating the mid-range game from the NBA. But Toronto did not try to win the Finals by copying the style of the Warriors. There was one shot in particular that appeared to be crucial for them.
And it wasn’t a threepointer.
Neither was it a lay-up or dunk.
It was a a shot that is even more analytical effective for them. It’s a simple free throw. A FREE THROW!
Let’s take a look to the case of Kawhi Leonard. All season long, Kawhi has been shooting at 54,2% from two-point range. That means that a two-point attempt by Leonard is worth on average 1,08 points. Compare this to provoking two free-throws. Leonard has been shooting his FT’s this season at 85,4%, so a shooting foul on Kawhi gives the Raptors on average 1,71 points, which is 0,63 points MORE than a regular two point field goal! I challenge you to do the math for a threepoint attempt, the difference is even bigger! A certain James Harden can help you with the maths, he’s the expert!
And the free throws have been key to the Raptors these Finals. Not the shot itself of course. But more the creation of these free throws. Did you know that the Raptors won all four games in the Finals when they provoked more than 0.25 free throws per field goal attempt? During two games they stayed below this barrier, in which they lost. And the undisputed MVP of the Finals, Leonard, was the king in provoking these free throws, averaging more than 10 FT attempts a game!
On the same matter but on a completely different level, I predicted some months ago how the Antwerp Giants in the Belgian League could break the hegemony of BC Oostende in the Cup Final. And they did.
Well, I’m heading off for now. About to make most of this Vegas trip!
Below, I share you a pic of me speaking at the annual coaching clinic event of the Lithuanian Coaches Association at the Zaligiris Academy. Very gratefull for this opportunity and the great feedback only makes me more hungry for more!