Even crummier than the Miami Heat’s 9-20 record is their free throw shooting, which is so terrible it’s obviously costing them wins but also placing them among some historically awful company.
Miami is just 66.4 percent on the season, which ranks last in the NBA and is on pace for the worst mark in franchise history.
The worst Heat team ever from the stripe also happened to be a great one, with the 2004-05 version dragged down by its poor-shooting bigs in Shaq and Zo, who shot 46 percent and 56 percent from the line, respectively. They would make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
How does the 2016-17 Miami Heat stack up on a historical league-wide level? In the NBA’s modern era (1979-80 onward), the Heat is on pace to tally what would be tied for the third worst mark, per Basketball Reference.
Only six teams in the last 37 years have shot 67 percent or worse from the line over the course of a season.
It has to be extremely frustrating for Heat fans because free throw shooting is probably the most resonating part of the game. It’s not something affected by height, athleticism, or basketball IQ. It’s a pure skill that even the most average athlete could perfect with precise form and diligent practice.
The biggest perps, which I define as players who are underachieving in comparison to their career marks, are Hassan Whiteside (53%), Dion Waiters (65%), and Justise Winslow (62%). Each is shooting about five points below his career average.
Free throw shooting is part of the reason why the Heat ranks a lackluster 26th in offensive efficiency and why they’re struggling to finish close games.
With 53 games remaining, the Miami Heat has plenty of time to turn its free throw shooting around but as it stands today the squad is on pace to be among the worst modern basketball has ever seen.