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For B.League Players, Frequent Trips to the Foul Line are Not That Common

Only seven B.League players who've competed in the majority of their team's games this season are averaging 6.0 or more free-throw attempts per game.

It's interesting to compare statistics from different pro leagues in the same sport. For instance, the NBA and the B.League; and even though the former has 48-minutes games (8 minutes longer than the latter's contests), there are similarities among the two leagues' stats.

In this era of rapid-fire 3-point shooting and the expectation that every player on the floor will launch shots from beyond the arc, there's a noticeable reduction in recent years in the number of players who are frequent visitors to the free-throw line.

According to the NBA's updated per-game player statistics on Basketball Reference (through Tuesday, January 30), there are 20 players averaging 6.0 or more foul shots a game. Two superstars are attempting more than 10 a game ― Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid (12.2) and Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (11.2). Ninth on the list is Phoenix Suns dynamic guard Devin Booker (7.1).

All of the NBA's top 20 in free-throw attempts per game are also playing 30 or more minutes a game.

Shimane's Perrin Buford looks to score inside as Yokohama B-Corsairs big man Josh Scott defends on January 28 at Yokohama International Swimming Pool. (B.LEAGUE)

B.League Star Buford Makes an Impact at the Free-Throw Line

In the shorter B.League game, Shimane Susanoo Magic all-star forward Perrin Buford, who is No 1 with 7.0 foul shots a game, has appeared in 28 games through Sunday, January 28. Buford is second in the league in scoring (23.1 points per game).

Injured Shinshu Brave Warriors center Wayne Marshall is also averaging 7.0 free throws. But Marshall has only appeared in four matches, so he does not qualify as a statistical leader.

Is there a correlation between having a player who is among the league's best at drawing fouls and winning games at a high percentage rate? At times, yes.

Shimane owns a 21-12 record, second-best among the Western Conference's eight teams.

Yokohama B-Corsairs point guard Yuki Kawamura attacks the basket against the Susanoo Magic on January 28. Kawamura is the B.League's leading scorer (23.3 points per game). (B.LEAGUE)

Balanced scoring can, of course, be a stronger catalyst for overall success for a team than relying on one or two players to carry the scoring load. Case in point: Yokohama B-Corsairs point guard Yuki Kawamura leads the league in scoring (23.1 ppg) and is No 2 in foul shots per game (6.7). But the B-Corsairs (14-19) are mired in mediocrity in the 2023-24 campaign.

NeoPhoenix's Maten Earns Regular Trips to the Charity Stripe

On the other hand, the San-en NeoPhoenix, who have five players averaging double-digit point totals this season, can look to power forward Yante Maten's 6.2 free throws a game as a metaphorical icing on the cake. Maten routinely creating scoring opportunities for his team when the clock stops. His overall scoring contributions: 13.6 ppg for the Central Conference squad.

Maten is tied with Osaka Evessa teammates Shawn Long and Angelo Caloiaro at 6.2 attempts per game. They are a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch for the Evessa. Caloiaro is the team leader in scoring (18.2), followed by Long (17.8). Osaka (13-20) is also struggling to climb into playoff contention.

Saga Ballooners point guard Reynaldo Garcia (B.League)

Not to be overlooked is the all-around impact of veteran floor leader Reynaldo Garcia for the Saga Ballooners, who were promoted to B1 from B2 after the 2022-23 B.League season.

Garcia has helped the Ballooners win 18 of their first 33 games in the first division. Indeed, no simple feat. Garcia leads Saga in points (15.1) and assists (4.2). Naturally, getting to the free-throw line on a regular basis has helped his scoring average. Garcia is averaging 6.3 free-throw attempts (and nearly 5.0 makes) per game.

Toyama Grouses center Ivan Buva (B.League)

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Buva Shines for Struggling Grouses

Recording-breaking and/or impressive individual statistics for a team having a woeful season often vanish into the dustbin of history.

Center Ivan Buva leads the Toyama Grouses with 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. He's also the only other player in the B.League to reach the aforementioned benchmark average of 6.0 foul shots per game (exactly 6.0, in fact). This included season-best totals of makes (12) and attempts (15) on January 28 in a 22-point performance.

The Grouses, meanwhile, have lost five in a row, dropping to 4-29.

Who's Hot in the B.League?

San-en (29-4) extended its winning streak to 11 on Sunday, January 28 with a 103-68 rout of the host Nagasaki Velca. What's more, the title-chasing Alvark Tokyo (29-4) won their ninth straight game, an 83-81 home triumph over the Evessa, on the same day.

All 24 teams were back in action on Wednesday night, January 31.

Meanwhile, entering the midweek competition, the Chiba Jets (20-13) had rattled off seven consecutive victories, including a 91-73 away victory over the Grouses on Sunday.

Ryukyu Golden Kings center Alex Kirk participates in pre-game warmups on January 31 at Saga Arena. (B.LEAGUE)

Ryukyu's Kirk Acquires Japanese Citizenship

American-born former NBA player Alex Kirk, who joined the Ryukyu Golden Kings in the offseason, has become a naturalized Japanese citizen.

The Golden Kings announced the news on January 25.

Kirk, a 32-year-old University of New Mexico alum, previously played for the Alvark (2017-23), winning back-to-back championships in his first two seasons with Tokyo.

This season, he's averaging 12.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 14 games (10 starts).

"This is one of the happiest days [for my] family and of my life," Kirk said in a statement. "Basketball has taken me all around the world and has brought me to my home here in Japan. I'm humbled and beyond excited to be a Japanese citizen."

He continued by saying, "I want to say thank you to all those who have supported me in this journey and I hope I continue to make you proud. Without my family and friends none of this would have been possible. Can't wait to watch my family grow here in Japan."


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven


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