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Random Stat:
Free Throw Shooting at home versus away

One thing that has been pondered for basketball at all levels is whether free throw shooting varies playing at home versus away. At home you have the familiarity factor along with a usually accomodating home crowd (beware the boo birds though if you're an 'underachieving' team), whereas playing on the road with a home crowd sitting behind the backboard you, you'll have to deal with all kinds of craziness.

Which NBA players have seen the largest difference in their free throw shooting home versus away? We'll get to that, but first let's note the league wide averages: home teams have shot free throws +.004 better in both 2004-05 and 2005-06 (season to date), but that's not adjusting for who took the free throws. Oh, and for the people thinking there's a large bias in awarded free throws for the home team, it turns out that home sides took an extra 1.11 free throws per game last season, and 1.17 extra per game this year so far. Oddly enough, in the clutch moments of games, the away free throw shooting percentage has actually been higher!

Largest net in Home FT% - Away FT% (Min: 30 FTA at home)
Home
Away
Net
Rk
Player
Tm
FTM
FTA
FT%
FTM
FTA
FT%
FT%
1
 Fortson
SEA
28  33  .848  10  .500  +.348 
2
 Perkins
BOS
32  45  .711  15  35  .429  +.282 
3
 Brown
UTA
52  56  .929  46  65  .708  +.221 
4
 Granger
IND
29  32  .906  35  49  .714  +.192 
5
 Anderson
HOU
29  31  .935  32  42  .762  +.173 
6
 Battie
ORL
37  50  .740  16  28  .571  +.169 
7
 Webber
PHI
104  125  .832  55  80  .688  +.144 
8
 Stoudamire
ATL
38  40  .950  34  42  .810  +.140 
9
 Terry
DAL
50  60  .833  43  62  .694  +.139 
10
 Jack
POR
37  45  .822  26  38  .684  +.138 
11
 B.Wallace
DET
57  111  .514  29  76  .382  +.132 
12
 Thomas
WAS
31  45  .689  19  34  .559  +.130 
13
 Bowen
SAS
22  35  .629  13  26  .500  +.129 
14
 Jeffries
WAS
32  45  .711  24  41  .585  +.126 
15
 Murray
SEA
58  77  .753  31  49  .633  +.120 
16
 Harrington
ATL
102  133  .767  52  80  .650  +.117 
17
 Bogans
CHA
38  46  .826  42  59  .712  +.114 
18
 Williams
MIL
47  52  .904  38  48  .792  +.112 
19
 Miller
SAC
77  85  .906  89  111  .802  +.104 
20
 Jackson
IND
64  79  .810  65  92  .707  +.103 

Well, Danny Fortson doesn't have the sample size clearly for road free throws (but here's an instance where ref bias may be pronounced -- is he subjected to different standards on the road versus at home?), but there are some pronounced differences: do the guys showing up on this list get more easily rattled by the antics of the opposing crowd? Could be.

However, if you go back and look at these same twenty guys in 2004-05, you'll find that for the non-rookies, basically half of them have better Home FT%, and the other half better Away FT%. This doesn't exactly suggest a compelling argument there's much to it on a specific player basis. The guys who show up both times as better at home are:

- Terry, B.Wallace, E.Thomas, B.Bowen, R.Murray, A.Harrington, Bogans, M.Williams, S.Jackson.

Now we'll examine the other end of the spectrum:

Lowest net in Home FT% - Away FT% (Min: 30 FTA at home)
Home
Away
Net
Rk
Player
Tm
FTM
FTA
FT%
FTM
FTA
FT%
FT%
191
 Andersen
NOK
20  48  .417  29  55  .527  -.110 
192
 Murphy
GSW
105  139  .755  85  98  .867  -.112 
193
 Jaric
MIN
37  55  .673  33  42  .786  -.113 
194
 Taylor
NYK
19  30  .633  12  16  .750  -.117 
195
 Nelson
ORL
35  50  .700  45  55  .818  -.118 
196
 Maggette
LAC
52  64  .813  49  52  .942  -.129 
197
 Jackson
MEM
19  30  .633  32  42  .762  -.129 
198
 Ford
MIL
40  63  .635  57  74  .770  -.135 
199
 McDyess
DET
17  30  .567  12  17  .706  -.139 
200
 McLeod
UTA
34  45  .756  26  29  .897  -.141 
201
 Najera
DEN
47  63  .746  33  37  .892  -.146 
202
 Haslem
MIA
35  46  .761  41  45  .911  -.150 
203
 Dampier
DAL
17  36  .472  47  75  .627  -.155 
204
 Cabarkapa
GSW
23  34  .676  20  24  .833  -.157 
205
 Haywood
WAS
35  72  .486  46  69  .667  -.181 
206
 Felton
CHA
43  72  .597  37  47  .787  -.190 
207
 Claxton
NOK
71  105  .676  89  102  .873  -.197 
208
 Cook
LAL
27  38  .711  22  24  .917  -.206 
209
 Griffin
MIN
13  30  .433  20  30  .667  -.234 
210
 Watson
DEN
23  44  .523  .889  -.366 

If you can find a common thread connecting these players, let us know, but it seems primarily a random effect -- once again half of the twenty show better away FT shooting in 04-05, the other half were better at home.

If you look at specific teams, you'll find the following:

FT% at home is .010 or more better in both 04-05 and 05-06
Cleveland, Detroit, New Jersey, New York

FT% at home is -.010 worse in both 04-05 and 05-06
Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio

Ah, but really you're asking yourself, "which team's fans do the best job of spooking the opposing players" and here's the read on that:

Lowest FT % by opponents playing at team's home
1. Phoenix (#5 in 05-06, #2 in 04-05)
2. Boston (#1, #8)
3. Cleveland (#4, #6)
4. Houston (#8, #5)
5. Orlando (#3, #13)
...
26. Philadelphia (#16, #29)
27. Portland (#22, #25)
28. New Orleans (#28, #23)
29. L.A. Lakers (#24, #28)
30. Milwaukee (#28, #30)

Of course as the numbers showed above, attributing that to the home team fans or even the arena seems dubious. More likely some teams do a better job of not fouling the good FT shooters!


Do you have an idea for a cool "random stat" you would like to see? If so, drop us a line

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