Day 90 of our 100 Days of Hoops is dedicated to some of the most consistent free throw shooters the game of basketball has ever seen. The theme today is about players making 90% of their free throws or better.
Throughout ABA/NBA history, there have been 125 times a player has shot 90% or over throughout a season. Rick Barry has led the NBA in free throw percentage six times throughout his career, Reggie Miller has five times in his career, including his final season in 2004-05.
Yes, free throws are important. And yes, no one guards you at the line so people think it’s easy. It’s true, anyone can make a free throw, but it takes serious skill to swish them consistently. Before we reach All-Time Status, these are the top five free throw percentages in a season:
5). Jeff Hornacek (1999-2000) .9500
4). Ray Allen (2008-09) .9518
3). Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (1993-94) .9563
2). Calvin Murphy (1980-81) .9581
1). Jose Calderon (2008-09) .9805
You guessed it! Jose Calderon’s biggest superpower is from the free throw line. While Calderon is pretty forgettable these days, he’s panned out a solid career when he played for Toronto. Don’t expect his number to be retired or anything because of this, maybe he can help bring up LeBron’s free throw percentage?
Let’s focus on the all-time list and look at the three most consistent free throw shooters of all-time:
Honorable Mentions: Peja Stojakovich (.8948); Chauncey Billups (.8940); Ray Allen (.8939)
Curry is third all-time in free-throw percentage and we’re thinking he could end up as number one or two by the time he retires. When Curry isn’t crashing house parties to play beer pong, he keeps shooting. He currently sits at .9010 on the all-time list at twenty-nine years old.
Price totaled out his free throw percentage at .9039. He is second on the all-time list after playing thirteen seasons. Price led the league in free throw percentage three times in those thirteen seasons. Although Price was drafted as the first pick of round two, he surpassed his critics by becoming the Cavaliers all-time leader in assists and steals (at the time). Those accomplishments are good enough to make his #25 retired by the Cavs.
Nash is the all-time leader in free throw percentage at .9043. That’s .04 ahead of Price if you can do math. Nash led the league in free throw percentage twice, in 2004-05 and 2009-10. We saw the Suns retire his number in 2015 and Nash’s influence still touches on today’s game with the importance of the three-point line and spacing.
If there’s anything you can take away from Day 90 of our 100 Days of Hoops, it’s the importance of making your free throws. The players mentioned above make it look easy, but when the pressure is on the line you can see players falter. Also when one team keeps purposefully fouling a poor free throw shooter, you can see what kind of impact the free throw line has in basketball.