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Top 10 Free-Throw leaders in the NBA for 2012-13

sidbreakball
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Top 5 / Top 10
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Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots a free throw during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots a free throw during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

Free throws are, well, free. The best scorers make it a point to get to the line so the defense respects their drives, as a result it lets them knock down jumpers when defenses back off to protect the drive. Rare is the perimeter scorer who doesn’t drive in almost as often as taking a long range two. Of course a drive does not have to end in a jumper, the aim is to just get open. A lot of scorers are adept at drawing contact away from the rim as well. Even when a scorer shoots 9 for 21, if he gets to the line 10 times in the game, he can score thirty points.

Here’s a look at the top ten players on the free throws made per game list this season:

Format: Free throws made/Free throws attempted (Free throws made per game)

1. Kevin Durant- 679/792 (8.6) | Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant almost wrested away with his fourth straight scoring title this season, were it not for Carmelo Anthony. Durant is 6″9 and can get to the line with ease, fouling him is the only way to prevent an easy bucket when he is within range. He shot 90% this season from the line, entering the 50-40-90 club. He averaged 28.1 points per game this season.

2. James Harden – 674/792 (8.4) | Houston Rockets
Were Harden still with the Thunder, he would have probably been way down on this list. As it is he is the leader this season in free throws made per game. Harden averaged 25.9 points per game this season and he shot 85.1% from the line.

3. Kobe Bryant – 525/626 (6.7) | Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe is a past master in the art of drawing contact. He can get to the rim at will and his post moves and footwork are strong enough to enable him to make mincemeat of the defense by getting to the line. There’s also the swagger, superstars get the benefit of superstar calls. Remember when he fouled Ricky Rubio on a potential game tying three pointer? Kobe got the benefit of being Kobe and the referee swallowed his whistle. Similarly referees blow harder when a superstar seems to get fouled. Kobe shot 83% from the line and averaged 27.3 points per game.

4. Carmelo Anthony – 525/626 (6.3) | New York Knicks
The league’s leading scorer shot 83% from the line and averaged 28.7 points per game. Melo has always been known as a prolific scorer, so much so that he’s been labeled as a scorer instead of an all-round player like LeBron James or Durant. Even granting that there is something in those allegations, there are worse things than being a jack of scoring. This season Melo has picked it up from the distance and that has only enabled him to get to the line more often as defenses play him closer.

5. Russell Westbrook – 425/512 (5.6) | Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is the fastest player in the NBA, according to NBA 2K13. He’s one of the most athletic players in the league and he throws his body with abandon and gets to the line 7 times per game. He shot 80% from the line this season and averaged 23.2 points per game.

6. LeBron James – 403/535 (5.3) | Miami Heat
The MVP (in all probability) averaged 26.8 points per game this season and shot 75% from the line. One theory I have for why LeBron doesn’t average more free throws is that when defenders see a wrecking ball hurtling towards them by rocket propulsion, they choose to just step out of the way instead of getting demolished.

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7. John Wall – 246/306 (5.0) | Washington Wizards
John Wall is one of the players poised to be the point guard of tomorrow. The better point guards are at penetration, the more their teammates can get open. Wall shot 80% from the line and averaged 18.5 points per game.

8. Ramon Sessions – 291/307 (4.8) | Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcat is one of the surprise inclusions in this list. He averaged 14.4 points per game this season while shooting 83.9% from the line.

9. Dwight Howard – 355/721 (4.7) | Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard attempted 721 free throws this season, third most in the league behind Durant and Harden. But he only shot 49% from the line. Its scary to think how good he can be if he can learn to shoot a respectable percentage from the line. As it is he averaged 17.1 points per game. It bodes ill for the Lakers in the playoffs that in clutch situations when teams decide to foul Howard.

10. Dwyane Wade – 308/425 (4.5) | Miami Heat
Wade’s propensity for getting to the free throw line is legendary. Its pretty much how Miami won the championship over Dallas in 2006. This season wade shot 72% from the line and averaged 21.2 points per game.

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