Much optimism was expressed by the New York Knicks in training camp about working toward improving at the free throw line in 2023-24. In their opening night loss to the Boston Celtics, the results of their grind failed to show.
Knicks’ Blown Free Throws a Major Determinant in Loss
The Knicks shot 14-26 from the line, prompting head coach Tom Thibodeau to say this about his team’s inability to connect from the charity stripe, per Peter Botte of the New York Post:
“Obviously, you want to shoot better than that,” Thibodeau said Thursday before the Knicks departed for a three-game road trip beginning Friday night in Atlanta. “I think getting to the bonus early is important for us. It creates value shots. So free throws, hopefully, we’re making a much higher percentage than we did in the first game.”
The 12 points that the Knicks failed to convert at the charity stripe may have been the difference between losing by four points and kicking off the season in the win column.
RJ Barrett was vocal about free throws being one of his major off-season goals. He delivered on his end, nailing 85.7 percent of his looks en route to a team-high 24 points. On the other hand, Mitchell Robinson spoke openly about taking 50 free throws each practice and improving the mechanics of his form. He went 0-2 from the line in a struggling effort.
Julius Randle dropped the ball from all efficiency standpoints this past Wednesday. In addition to going 5-22 from the field, Randle also shot 1-5 from the stripe.
It wasn’t all Randle’s fault though. No other Knicks player outside of Barrett and Immanuel Quickley connected on better than 50 percent of their free-throw attempts.
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A Larger Sample Size is Needed to Assess the Knicks’ Free Throw Progress
It’s too early to gauge how much of a problem New York’s no-show from the free throw line will be as the season wears on. The Knicks start their three-game road trip tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.
Atlanta has downsized following the offseason departure of power forward John Collins. With Saddiq Bey starting at the four, Julius Randle will have a considerably smaller defender to utilize his aggressiveness against than the 7-4 Kristaps Porzingis who gave him problems along with the rest of the Celtics front court.
The Knicks will battle against rim protectors Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu on the inside as they look to erase their bad luck on freebies and reach .500.