One only needs to look at Karl Malone's career to recognize the cumulative effects of getting to the free throw line. You get points, and make the defense play increasingly timid basketball with each one you take and make. Getting easy points in the fourth quarter also help. Utah Jazz fans know this as we lost a TON of close games last season. Let's put two and two together and take a look at how we did last season from the free throw line - in the 4th quarter.
The Jazz went to the line 580 times in the 70 games last year (66 in the regular season, and 4 in the playoffs). And the Jazz only made 428 of those 580 -- a cumulative success rate of 73.79%. That number is both lower than our entire season average, and lower than the number our opponents got in the 4th as well. It wasn't good for us, the guys who made their free throws didn't go to the line much, and the guys who did go to the line missed theirs. Well, except for the case of Gordon Hayward, our one bright hope in this situation . . .(well, Alec Burks too, but he needs to shoot better).
It's kind of disgusting when Enes Kanter, a 19 year old rookie center, has a better 4th quarter FT% than three of our four point guards. The fallacy of "Jeff Hornacek will fix it" really comes to play here. Jeff can't fix everything. Some of it has to come from the players themselves. It also have to come from the coaches too. Get some dedicated shooting coaches. When you promoted Jeff from shooting coach to Assistant Coach he had to do other jobs, and could not ONLY focus on shooting. We lost a lot of close games last year. Part of that HAD to be free throw related.
Making your free throws makes you a winner. And during "winning time" we sucked.