Whether it’s college basketball or the NBA, the numbers are all pretty much the same: the average basketball team tends to make around 72% of its free throws, with good teams draining around 80% and terrible teams hitting around 65%. So if, on average, teams take about 22 free throw attempts per game, the difference between the best and worst free throw teams works out to about 3.3 points per game. And that hardly seems significant compared to everything else that influences the outcome of basketball games—like, for example, having good players.
But please don’t tell any of this to the fans behind the away team’s basket. Those people love making elaborate signs, wearing crazy costumes, jumping up and down, and sacrificing their dignity in an attempt to distract the opponent’s players and affect the outcome of the game. And I think pretty much everyone loves watching them do all these things.
Does it work? No, probably not. Teams pretty much always have the same FT% on the road as they do at home. But who cares if it doesn’t work? It’s fun, and sports are supposed to be about fun, not math and statistics.
So I say, keep it up, crazy behind-the-basket people. Prove the stats nerds wrong.
And in an effort to encourage more free-throw craziness, here’s a list of 15 of the most impressive free throw distractions you’ll ever see. Hopefully these people will continue to outdo themselves.