131 games into his NBA career, New Orleans Pelicans guard Brian Roberts has made an astonishing 92.6 percent of his free throws. Pelicans.com's Jim Eichenhofer indicates that this marks the highest percentage in NBA history for any player with 150 or more attempts.
After making 70 of 77 free throws (90.9 percent) as a rookie last season, Roberts has surprisingly been even better in 2013-14, hitting 81 of his 86 (94.2 percent) attempts. Roberts has a higher free-throw percentage than league leader Dirk Nowitzki (91.4 percent) this season, but the Pelicans guard hasn't shot enough to qualify for the lead.
In order to qualify by the end of the season, Roberts will need 125 successful free throws. He's averaging just 1.5 per game, and if he maintains that average and doesn't miss any contests, Roberts will finish the season with 114 converted foul shots, leaving him 11 short of qualification.
Fortunately for fans of the second-year guard, prorating Roberts' production isn't the best way to predict his numbers.
His season-long averages don't account for the fact that he was a role player in November and December before starting point guard Jrue Holiday—who was recently ruled out for the season— suffered a stress fracture in his right tibia.
Roberts is averaging just 22 minutes per game in 2013-14, but has logged 29.1 minutes over the last 26 contests, all of which Holiday missed. Since the Pelicans lost their starting point guard in early January, Roberts has produced 1.9 foul shots made per game. If we prorate that average over the rest of the season, he'd finish with 122.8 successful free throws, just a smidgen shy of qualification.
As great as he is from the line, Roberts' failure to qualify would highlight the reality that free-throw shooting isn't particularly important to his game.
As a 6'1", 173-pound point guard with limited scoring ability, Roberts doesn't have much of a knack for getting to the line. He attempts just .216 free throws for every field-goal attempt and the difference between Roberts and a league-average (approximately 73 percent) free-throw shooter has only been worth about 18 points for the Pelicans this season.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!