Phoenix Suns set all-time NBA record for free-throw percentage

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Devin Booker (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

No team in NBA history has a better free-throw shooting percentage in a given season than the 2019-20 Phoenix Suns.

The Phoenix Suns shot 1,740 free throws this season. The made 1,451 of them. This comes out to an uncanny 83.39 percent, good enough to make them the best free-throw shooting team in NBA history.

It is a remarkable stat, really. The Suns passed the 1989-90 Boston Celtics, who previously held the record with 83.19 percent. After them, the next best free-throw shooting teams were the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks (82.88 percent) and the 2012-13 Oklahoma City Thunder (82.83 percent).

The major difference between the 2019-20 Suns and those other three teams, however, is that the Suns were the only team not to make the playoffs.

The Phoenix Suns’ free-throw shooting didn’t lead to wins.

Obviously, free-throw shooting isn’t exactly the tell-tale statistic of team success. The Los Angeles Lakers shot a miserable 72.9 percent (good for 28th in the league) and still managed to earn the top seed in the Western Conference.

Just ahead of them in 27th place? The Milwaukee Bucks, the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with 74.2 percent.

Still, to be the best league history in a scoring category and miss the playoffs anyway stings.

The Suns were led by, of course, Devin Booker, who shot a league-best 91.9 percent (minimum 150 attempts).

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On the opposite end of the spectrum, Frank Kaminsky shot a team-worst 67.8 percent (which is an anomaly considering he is a career 75 percent shooter), but every other player shot in the 70s or above. Eight players (if you omit Jalen Lecque, Tariq Owens, and Jonah Bolden who were all 2/2), shot at least 80 percent.

For what it is worth, the worst free-throw shooting teams in history were of a bygone era. The Philadelphia 76ers in 1963-64 season (before the Phoenix Suns even existed) shot an abysmal 63.54 percent, a record that is almost certainly safe for the foreseeable future.

All this being said, the Phoenix Suns would gladly swap free-throw percentages with either the Bucks or Lakers this year if it also meant swapping their place in the final standings. It is a shame the 2019-20 Suns aren’t still in Orlando battling in the playoffs, but this statistic is yet another sign this team in on the right path.

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