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Bulls FT% update: Rose and Deng make dramatic strides

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Who knew the key all along to FT shooting improvement was abandoning the tounge-wag-overhand-throw-in style! (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Who knew the key all along to FT shooting improvement was abandoning the tounge-wag-overhand-throw-in style! (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Weekend news was a mixed bag for the Bulls: They swept the weekend on a back-to-back in Detroit and back home against the Raptors, but didn't look that great in doing so. Their lead for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference is now 2.5 games over Miami and 3 over Boston, but Joakim Noah has now missed the last 3 games due to a sprained ankle. The good clearly outweighs the bad, but it's not all Roses (SORRY).

To the topic at hand: the improvement in the Bulls free-throw shooting has been brought up in several comment threads lately, and I figured this would be a good time to do an update on this post from December, which showed their marks from the stripe as a potential weakness this season.

The results since then, especially from Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, has been pretty amazing:

 

FT% at 12/14 since 12/14
Rose 76.1% 88.0%
Noah 72.4% 72.9%
Boozer 70.6% 68.9%
Deng 68.5% 78.0%
Gibson 70.5% 66.7%
Korver 90.6% 87.0%
Brewer 64.3% 64.7%
Watson 77.1% 72.2%
sum 72.9% 78.0%

 

I mentioned in that December post that I wasn't sure what could be done about the potential problem, with the assumption that the Bulls likely practiced and emphasized FT shooting as much as was appropriate. It's possible that assumption was incorrect and they did make a conscientious team effort. Or perhaps it's just yet another sign of how driven the Bulls are, they individually took it upon themselves to work on it.

Deng's career mark heading into the season was near 77%, so his improvement could just be progressing to the mean. But Rose has never been near this level. As the team's far-and-away attempts leader (amongst the dozen things he 'leads' their offense and team in) his improvement not only shows an incredible individual commitment from him, but that it was the best way for his team to improve as a whole.