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Something that was a huge part of the game of basketball is suddenly rarely ever seen when watching basketball today. What could I possibly be talking about. Scoring? Nope. Passing? Nope. Rebounding? Nope. I'm talking about the mid range shot.
Once upon a time, every player took midrange shots and there was no 3 point line to even consider to shoot from. Larry Bird and Michael Jordan were masters at the midrange game. Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki lived off the midrange game and became legends off of their ability to shoot from there. Dwayne Wade was a legend at the midrange game who just dominated the league with it. There are plenty of other players who were great at the midrange and scored at will like Allen Iverson and Steve Nash. But now, when you watch an NBA game, you see mostly three things, 3 point shots, dunks, and layups. You rarely see a player pull up from the free throw line or hit a baseline jumper. Most of the great players aren't mid range shooters when once all the great players were. James Harden, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Joel Embid, Jason Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic and even LeBron James and plenty of others around the league don't mix up their game. It's all predictable when watching them play. Now some players still have the midrange when playing but they don't use it often, those players are Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Goran Dragon, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn. They don't use it alot but if you watch these players enough, you can see that they have this ability and use it when they need to.
I can only think of three players who are really big in this league that use the midrange constantly and continue the legacy of this art. These are Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, and Kawhi Leonard . Chris has been in the league since 2005 which is probably why he still uses the midrange so heavily in his game. He is a master with the ball and is able to create his own shot that isn't at the rim but isn't all the way out at the 3 point line. He isn't a tall or big guy but his ability to use the whole floor and be crafty while doing it has helped him stay in the league a long time while still being one of the best point guards in the game. Jimmy Butler on the other hand is simply just a hard worker. Last year I don't think he shot more than 120 three's all season. To give a reference on how low that number is, another one of his teammates, Duncan Robison, MADE 270 3's last season. He shot 606 3's.
That is a huge difference in how the two play and how many 3's Duncan shot is the norm for how most players play around the league. Jimmy might not take a lot of 3's but his ability to score when he wants is unbelievable. His midrange game is unstoppable and no one can seem to stop it. He scores at will and his ability to get to the rim is even better than his midrange. Kawhi is a very quiet but very smart player who came into the league playing with legends, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. They all used and were great at the midrange and helped him evolve into the complete and dominant player that he is today. If you watched his lone season with the Toronto Raptors, the playoff run that they made was simply incredible but a big reason for that was because Kawhi's ability to shoot and be dominant in the midrange game. His ability to use this opened up other teammates and his own ability to drive and shoot to the 3 ball.
Being able to have an all around game including the mid range shot, will help you as a player and as a teammate because it opens up many more opportunities for other players on your team. It also makes it harder for the defense to guard you as they have to guard you at the 3 point line, midrange, and at the rim.
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