Welcome back to BaynesWatch, a special Defector segment dedicated to the NBA’s most baffling ongoing statistical mystery.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, and the greater Tampa Bay metropolitan area collectively exhaled on Friday. In his 253rd minute of the NBA season, Aron Baynes finally reached the free throw line. Toronto’s starting center was fouled by Richaun Holmes with 8:40 left in the first quarter, which meant Baynes would finally take his first and second free throws of the season. That goose egg was a remarkable feat, but it ended with him going 1-for-2. Remarkably, he earned and nailed a second pair against Orlando over the weekend. I cannot find highlight videos of either trip to the line, for obvious reasons, so here is an old video of Baynes practicing his stroke.
But while Baynes escaped statistical ignominy, BaynesWatch will continue apace, because Oklahoma City Thunder noodleman Aleksej Pokusevski now sits at 276 NBA minutes without ever taking a free throw. Pokusevski is a remarkably shaped person, roughly half a foot taller and 100 pounds lighter than Zion Williamson. That a legit 7-footer takes 11 percent of his shots at the rim and has only been fouled one time this year is remarkable. It makes a bit more sense when you consider Poku’s shot chart. He rarely enters the paint, and is not nearly a good enough shooter to warrant any close guarding.
Despite—or perhaps because of—Poku’s 24 percent shooting clip, 61 offensive rating, 2.7 PER, and -8.4 points per 100 possessions on-off split, he’s still playing 17 minutes per game. Pokusevski might not ever enter the paint with venomous intentions, since he risks being chopped down like an ambitious sapling and seems to know it. That said, he will at least satisfy the most basic requirement for attempting free throws simply by being on the court for a quarter or so of every game. Whenever the Thunder decide to lose in earnest, playing Poku seems like the best way to get there quickly.
This has been BaynesWatch.