Eisenberg: Examining Tim Duncan’s astounding FT improvement

So as Duncan continues to shoot his free throws with the most confident stroke of his career, memories of Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals are growing more distant by the day.

To put things in historical perspective, check out this chart from weaksideawareness.com:

“OK, let’s start with basics, I downloaded a file from basketballreference.com with historical data and I compared FT% in every season after 5th [with minimum 150 free throw attempts] to Free Throw Percentage based on all combined makes and attempts at this point of player’s career. And here are the results…

PlayeryearSeasonftmftaFT%to-date-FTMto-date-FTAto-date-FT%Sudden jump by
Chris Webber1999731141475,12799147754,1021,02
Dale Davis1999913920368,47882172951,0117,46
Dale Davis20011115021270,751117208453,6017,16
Chris Webber20041218122879,391983315862,7916,59
Kevin Restani1979613116181,3713120165,1716,19
Mark West1989719928869,1047187254,0115,08
Marty Conlon1996614417184,2132747069,5714,64
Corliss Williamson2001724029880,54933141565,9414,60
Paul Silas1971843356077,321269202362,7314,59
Joel Przybilla2008911216966,2733163352,2913,98
Brendan Haywood2007721629473,47794133459,5213,95
Chris Webber2001925333874,851434235260,9713,88
Gerald Wallace2008836545480,401074161466,5413,85
Toby Kimball1973812718568,65571103755,0613,59
Connie Dierking1966613418074,4445574760,9113,53
Jamal Mashburn2001921124187,551734234274,0413,51
Kevin Willis19981413015583,872490353870,3813,49
Tyson Chandler2009911515773,251071178959,8713,38
Kevin Willis1991729236380,441004149367,2513,19
Connie Dierking1967723731076,4558992763,5412,91
Drew Gooden2009818621686,111180161273,2012,91
Caldwell Jones1981617921981,7455380268,9512,78
Baron Davis20091123929182,131983284669,6812,45
Thomas Sanders19691016118387,981632215875,6312,35
Nate Thurmond1969726134675,431554246263,1212,31

Obviously Tyson Chandler made a list, otherwise you wouldn’t read this post, but his improvement was far away from the most impressive one – this title probably should belong to Chris Webber who after six years of shooting at dreadful 54% made a jump to 75% and he even had some seasons close to 80%! Very nice Chris.

Dale Davis would be my clear number 2 in terms of most impressive improvement though he started at lower clip than Webber. Also last year’s backup to Tyson Chandler – Brendan Haywood – had a nice jump himself but it proved to be just a fluke year.

By the way, does anybody know how they did it?
Is there any coach who should get some deserved credit?

And just because I’ve checked and it works very nicely as a curiosity…
here’s a difference between the worst year and the best one [with minimum 150 FTA for both seasons]…

PlayerBest YearftmftaFT%Worst YearftmftaFT%Difference
Karl Malone199958973979,7198519540548,1431,56
George Mcginnis197547564273,9819817215945,2828,7
Dale Davis200115021270,7519969221542,7927,96
Paul Silas197326433778,3319648316450,6027,73
Vin Baker200311415772,6119987216045,0027,61
Doc Rivers198824728786,06198517228360,7725,29
Baron Davis200923929182,13200119633857,9824,15
Tom Hawkins195910616464,6319686215141,0523,58
Wilt Chamberlain1961835136361,26196735493237,9823,28
Dennis Johnson198725529885,57197617928762,3623,21
Tyson Chandler200911515773,2420059719350,2522,99
K.c. Jones195912817075,2919638816852,3822,91
Drew Gooden200918621686,11200316726263,7422,37
Kevin Mchale198939344089,31198010815967,9221,39
Jerry West196660268687,75196033149766,5921,16
World Free198052864981,35197511218660,2121,14
Dick Vanarsdale197614516687,34196722733966,9620,38
Gary Payton200126733579,7199316627959,4920,21
Antawn Jamison200237547578,9419989015358,8220,12
Shaquille O’Neal200245172562,2200612429442,1720,03
Tim Duncan200156070179,88200335258859,8620,02
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