Two months ago, I wrote about the Bucks' historic struggles with being outshot at the line. At that point, the Bucks had played 38 games and were outshot at the line in 32 of them, good for 84.2%. That was by far the highest percentage in Bucks history, and the second-highest in the league since 1986-1987.*
I happened to write that post following the first Bucks-Jazz matchup of the year. Now that the second resulted in a Bucks win, but moreso because Zorakathura asked, I think it is a good time to update the numbers. Note: these numbers are through the games of March 12.
As we all know, a lot has changed with this Bucks team since January 17. Jerry Stackhouse signed the next day, while one month later Primoz Brezec, Royal Ivey, and John Salmons arrived in exchange for Joe Alexander, Francisco Elson, Jodie Meeks, and Hakim Warrick. The re-shuffling re-vitalized the Bucks and vaulted them from 16-22 and out of the playoffs to 35-29 and sitting pretty as the fifth seed.
In the 26 games since my first post, the Bucks went 19-7, won the free throw battle 9 times, lost it 16 times, and tied once. In their current 11-1 run, they've won the battle six times. For simplicity's sake, I've counted the tie as a win since it obviously wasn't a loss (I have treated every team this way).
This means the Bucks have lost the free throw battle 48 of 64 times in 2009-2010, a 75.0% clip. The updated historical team rankings:
As you can see, the Bucks have come falling back to the field. If they keep their rate over the last 26 games up over the final 18 games, they'll fall to 72.0% for the season, still enough for the top spot. Even if they outshoot their opponents at the line in every remaining game, this year's squad will wind up in a tie for eighth.
Perhaps of less concern than historical team rankings are historical league rankings. The 2009-2010 Bucks are no longer in second place:
The Bucks are obviously now in the middle of the pack, but they're also not alone in the table. The Warriors make an appearance at the bottom of the table. As noted in my last post, the 1987-1988 SuperSonics are the only team on the list to finish with a .500 record. With the way the Bucks have been playing, I'd say they'll soon have company, except I have a feeling the Bucks will find a way to slide below 70.0%.
* - As noted last time, I used the Basketball-Reference.com Play Index to calculate these numbers. The Play Index goes back to 1986-1987.