Young Warriors go to free throw line much more than in past seasons

Grant Liffmann

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors are severely undermanned with the crippling effect of multiple injuries to the team's top players. Despite losing six of eight games, this team currently is playing some inspired and competitive basketball, feeding off the lack of expectations.

While they might be catching their opponents off guard so far, the active healthy Warriors, led by rookies, role players and two-way players, are playing feisty basketball. The team has been pushing the pace, bursting into transition at every opportunity, and competing in a scrappy, aggressive and highly enthusiastic fashion.

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How are the young Dubs staying competitive in games thus far? One main reason: They're drawing fouls. 

Entering Thursday, the Warriors are attempting over 27 free throws per game, good for sixth in the NBA. To no surprise, the Rockets lead the league with 30 free throw attempts per game.

This is a massive change from prior seasons under coach Steve Kerr and his past superstar rosters. Traditionally, many would expect that "superstar treatment" of elite players would lead to drawing the most fouls, but for a Warriors team that was so dominant for many years, it was quite the opposite.

Last season, the Warriors ranked 28th in the league with just over 20 attempts per game, which is the same amount Golden State attempted in the 2017-18 season, good for 22nd in the NBA. Without the best long-range shooters in the history of the game, the Warriors now are relying on attacking the rim and forcing the action. 

Trips to the free throw line are great and all, but teams also needs to make them, and the Warriors have been excellent thus far. The Warriors are second in the NBA in free throw percentage, converting over 86 percent. Being at the top of the NBA in this category is no revelation to the team. They were fifth in the league at 80 percent last season, and first in the league in the 2017-18 at nearly 82 percent.

But unlike the last few seasons when historically great free throw shooters like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant led the team in free throws, this season the Warriors are relying on rookies and relatively inexperienced players to convert from the stripe. Eric Paschall has made over 88 percent of his free throws, Damion Lee has converted 85 percent and Jordan Poole is yet to miss one.

[RELATED: Warriors learn lesson in poor third quarter vs. Rockets]

Even the combination of big men -- Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman and Marquese Chriss -- have combined to hit 86 percent of their free throws.

It's a small sample size, but if the young Warriors can continue to get to the line and make their free throws, then they might be in more close games than many previously thought.

Young Warriors go to free throw line much more than in past seasons originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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