Mid-Range Shots: Your Thoughts and Standards

houston rockets shot chartMost of us have heard the noise; taking any shots besides layups or triples is inefficient.  On that issue, we likely fall into four main distinct categories:

  • True Disciple – Has listened to the stat guys and then tested/charted the premise for one’s self and steadfastly insists that his players refrain from any shot that falls in between.  For lack of better terms, all of these shots are called “mid-range”.
  • Pragmatist – Has done the math and basically adheres to the premise but maintains that it is impossible for players to turn down all mid-range shots and encourages good looks wherever they originate.
  • Pragmatist II– Is satisfied with the program he has created and doesn’t see any need to change or complicate matters.  Likely a successful veteran.
  • Protester – Doesn’t even like the terms “analytics” or “advanced stats” for any number of reasons and is totally eye-test oriented but is aware of this particular advanced stat and others.

With those descriptions as a backdrop, let’s examine some thoughts that coaches in all four categories might consider:

  • No matter what kind of game one watches from the NBA to High School, in most games there are a number of mid-range shots taken.  The number will vary depending on the offensive coach’s philosophy and the types of defenses encountered.
  • Watch an NBA or NCAA game tonight and chart the shots in the three areas.  Draw your own conclusions.
  • Very few coaches argue against the validity of Effective FG% and the rewards for made 3PT FG’s.
  • Very few coaches will argue that over the long haul for MOST teams, Effective FG% will be higher if you just compute every shot but mid-range shots.
  • Defining a mid-range shot isn’t as easy as it sounds.  For instance, are jump hooks, turnarounds from the block, long tip-ins, some baseline inbounds buckets in the lane-mid-range shots or not.
  • We all would agree that made shots from beyond the arc help to create made layups and vice-versa.
  • But, would we all agree that the threat of an open mid-range shot also creates good looks from the arc and at the rim?  The most obvious example would be a high post catch against a zone. Would we let that player shoot all night at will from that area to prevent kick-outs to the perimeter and high-low passes?  I think not. The THREAT of open mid-range shots can be very effective.
  • The art of the pull-up jumper has been on the decline but is currently on the comeback.  Just as every sport has its tug-of-war between offense and defense, hoops is no different.  Defenses are packing the line and protecting the rim. Common sense tells one there are openings in the middle.
  • Players get fouled all the time between the arc and rim if they are threatening.  Those points created are mid-range. Why wouldn’t we think they are effective?
  • Not every player and every team shoots treys efficiently.  Should these players and teams keep firing away?
  • No two teams play alike.  Coaches are constantly on the hunt for how best their current team needs to play and with what personnel.  Case in point-one has two lock-down defenders who can’t make triples. They are plus players. Do they play or sit?
  • Charting our own teams and our opponents will give us the answers on this issue- if we’re looking for them.
  • Shooting a high Effective FG% is important If it leads to winning.
  • Shooting a lower Effective FG% can also lead to winning.  However, other factors probably need to be in play.





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Any Thoughts, Coach?