Read any national article about the Philadelphia 76ers and try not to find the phrase “free throw” contest: Go!
Ever since “The Beard” came to town – and even before, if we’re being honest, fans of pretty much every other team in the association have been obsessing over the number of free throws taken by the 76ers.
Now granted, most folks won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. While Joel Embiid and James Harden do average more free throws than any two-player combo on any other team in the association, the team actually ranks third in free throws attempts per game, with the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks ranking one and two. Furthermore, there’s that little matter of an opposing player having to make contact with Embiid, Harden, or any other player for them to earn an opportunity at the line, as a player can’t foul themselves or fish for them as often as in years prior but hey, we’ll get back to that later.
So naturally, when the recipient of Allen Iverson‘s famous step over, Ty Lue, declared that “Embiid and Harden wouldn’t be Top 10 in scoring without free throws,” the Philadelphia 76ers took it personally and turned in one of their most commanding victories of the season, beating Doc Rivers‘ former team 122-97. If that was that, then fans could ease into their weekend and enjoy some good old fashioned college basketball, but to add some insult to injury – or a cherry on top, depending on your rooting preferences – Daryl Morey swooped in and proved once and for all why the “Bonus Brothers” moniker is more a fun phrase than the reason why his team wins games.
If teams don’t want the Philadelphia 76ers to take free throws, don’t foul them.
The Los Angeles Clippers average 106.7 points per game. That mark ranks 25th overall, ahead of only the Dallas Mavericks, the New York Knicks, the Detroit Pistons, the Orlando Magic, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That number isn’t great, especially since the Clippers give up an average of 108.3 points per game, which ranks 11th association-wide, but hey, it could be a whole lot worse.
How? Well, if the Clippers eliminated free throws from their game entirely and simply accepted that a ball didn’t go in regardless of how much contact impeded the shot, they would rank dead last in points scored at a lousy 91.5, 11.8 points fewer than the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 103.3.
Mind you, the Clippers would never agree to that, as playing the game of basketball without free throws would be crazy, but do you know what else is crazy? Complaining about how often one player fouls another, especially when you are a fan of the team doing the fouling.
This is the silliness that Daryl Morey pointed out firsthand on Saturday evening and, as far as I’m concerned, the death knell in that conversation. Opposing players foul scorers when they can’t stop them any other way; if Joel Embiid and James Harden weren’t so good at what they do, folks wouldn’t have to foul them in a last-ditch effort to save a basket, but unfortunately for the 29 teams not named the Philadelphia 76ers, they really are just that good.
Will folks continue to complain whenever James Harden and Joel Embiid get fouled? Yes. Will the Philadelphia 76ers get called “Foul Merchants” or whatever other sill slogan someone wants to throw in the team’s face? You bet. But with one solitary tweet, Daryl Morey put this conversation to bed, whether haters want to admit it or not.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism