The myth of the mid-range jump shot



  • I’ve studied all the numbers heard all the points of view, but I can’t shake this feeling that a good mid range jump shot can help a team

    So the argument goes why take a mid range jumper when you can step back another 2 to 5 feet and hit a three? or pass the ball inside and take the easy two. These are fair points, and in a perfect world impossible to argue. Yet this isn’t a perfect world.

    I could get into actual measurements, but I won’t. I will take it for granted most of you know the length and width of a half court in the college game. I will say most of the offense is played with in 25ft of the basket give or take a few feet as I believe the rim actually hangs 3ft into the court. So if you take into account the 4 to 5 feet for paint play or bunnies and 1 to 4ft for the three point shot you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 ft that is dead space or where the mid range jumper was king. That’s over 1/3 of the half court, and nearly half of where the game is played that is dead space. That’s a lot of room to roam if you follow.

    Now I get taking a three at 20ft versus say 19 to 16 ft. I mean you’re already that close to the three line so why not. I also get taking the bunny or paint layup if you can spin or drive for the layup/dunk. Yet this isn’t a perfect world.

    The game has been involving for sometime. Head coaches and stat lovers have done their homework. The three and the 4 to 5ft paint shots are by far the must fruitful shots to take. I cannot argue. Yet as trends go on the offense side of the ball, so do the trends go on the defense side of the ball. All head coaches know this as they prep or install their offense game plan to play inside or shoot three’s, they also preach crash the paint and crowd the three point on line on the defense side of the ball.

    We see it in almost every game we watch. The center or forward gets the ball in the paint and is double teamed or even sometimes tripled team. Sometimes he makes a great move and scores, and sometimes he passes the ball out to start the offense again. It doesn’t end there though sometimes he makes a move turns the ball over or misses the shot. Again it doesn’t end there in some cases he gets fouled. So if he makes a great move and scores then great. If he passes the ball back out, then it’s no harm the offense starts over minus the precious seconds that clicked off the clock . Yet if he misses then that was an empty possession, maybe not a big deal unless the game is on the line. Basketball is no different than any other sport in that it’s a game of emotion. Miss a bunny and it could change the momentum of the game. If he gets fouled then that’s not all bad. It adds a foul to the other team’s big, but teams nowadays have lots of bigs with many fouls to give. As they recruit to the way the game is played now. In the paint and from the three point line. Yet if fouled he gets a foul shot or two. Well with few exceptions the bigs are poor free throw shooters. In fact with the game on the line teams are instructed to foul the others teams bigs instead of the easy two. Lets not forget how many times did you see a big take the ball to the hoop with two guys in front of him and another hanging onto him? Sometimes the bunny isn’t so easy. Not to mention the injuries that could come into play.

    The three point shot has changed the game like no other. I have to admit I’m all for the three shot. I would even go as far to say it’s not utilized enough, or maybe that’s just because I’m a KU fan. LOL Yet the three has it’s faults too. Very few teams hit for an high average from three land. Also it’s not like bigs where you can recruit for size. Playing out on the perimeter requires a very special set of skills. Handling the ball, passing the ball. seeing the floor. and so much more. Yet shooting the three can be a fools game. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not. Also very few shoot the three with an high average. Which would stand to reason has they more times than not have a hand in their face as no opponent respects the midrange shot. They don’t even look for it.

    My case for the midrange jumper is not half hearted, but full hearted. I just feel if you going to play offense in 47ft of court then why not use all that footage to your advantage? The midrange jumper used to be apart of this game and now it has no use? I just don’t buy it. At the very least it would make a defense think or change their game plan. I remember the Morris Twins they just used to eat teams alive with their midrange game. I can remember so many times looking up the clock, and 5 minutes into the game KU would be up like 10 to 15 points, and the Twins would have like 5 mid range jumpers. I guess what I’m saying is sometimes the best offense is taking what the defense gives you.

    I know I’m fighting a losing argument, but it’s hay, I think I make a strong case.



  • @DoubleDD It’s easier to step into a midrange shot when it is open, because unlike a three, you don’t have to be thinking about stopping short of a line when stepping into it. And players shooting midrange shots as opposed to 3s have a better chance of getting in position for a rebound, but might sacrifice something in getting back into transition defense if the other team is pushing it. And our bigs shooting midrange shots would not be in as good rebounding position.

    I like where you’re going with this; who do you think on this team should be attempting these midrange shots? Any particular players?



  • @approxinfinity

    I would prefer a team effort, an offense attack that would utilize the midrange shot. If I had to pick just one player it would be Wayne Selden who I think would be a natural. Also if I’m to believe with out really seeing Bragg, he seems to have good outside game. I also think the midrange jump shot would help Greene and especially SVI.

    I want to believe letting these guys make a few midrange jump shots would help them get in the flow of the game, and warming them up for the three ball when the need arises. Utilizing the midrange shot as a part of your offense scheme just like a high/low and so on. You take advantage of that open area on the court nobody shoots from anymore. It would be like throwing a zone against an offense that doesn’t play against such schemes. At the very at least it would make the defense and the opposing HC adjust their game plan. Thereby giving the offense team the chance to get back to the sweet spots. In the paint scoring and three land.

    I’m in no way am I advocating just a midrange shot offense approach. Yet I just feel it should be apart of any offense. Another weapon to the offense game plan. Too many times I have watched players pass up and open midrange shot, as they are taught not to take that shot.

    Last time I checked fans will still scream and holler with a well placed Midrange jump shot.



  • I know this dates me just a little, but the Grant twin that played for Oklahoma in the 1980’s, Harvey, I think, was just deadly with the mid range jumper. I never thought it was overrated every time he made one against us.



  • @wissoxfan83

    I think sometimes people just look at the risk and reward by mere numbers. Never considering the game as a whole.

    Just like a pitcher in baseball. Sometimes he’ll intentionally throw a ball up high out of the strike zone to get the hitter to swing and miss. Even though the stats would say always keep the ball down and on the corners. However there is nothing like watching a hitter chasing a high fast ball with no chance of hitting it. ;)

    The midrange jumper may not be the most fruitful shot on the court, but it’s still a shot. I really believe that overlooking or downplaying the shot is hurting the college game and the offense output. How many times have you’ve seen a player pass up a wide open midrange jump shot to pass to a contested three point shot? I marvel watching games today as the offense spins the ball around the perimeter looking for a passing lane into the paint for an easy two, or a player on the wing with a spot 3. All the while they may mass up on 2 to 3 midrange shots on any giving possession. That just doesn’t seem very efficient to me.

    A well played mid range shot would at the very force the defense to adjust. The defense couldn’t sit on the three line or pack the paint. Just my thoughts.



  • I. remember Bobby Knight lamenting the fact that the mid range shot, specifically a. 10 foot jumper was seldom used in the game any longer, and very few players had that skill. Just as you said, “take what the defense gives you.” I saw that very thing happening in the AAU tournament this weekend in Houston, Players driving into the paint and getting shots blocked when they could have pulled up a step or two earlier for an open shot.



  • " I guess what I’m saying is sometimes the best offense is taking what the defense gives you."

    Excellent thread! Sorry I missed posting on this sooner.

    I think the question should be less about why don’t teams use it versus why did they ever cut it out of their plans in the first place!

    Why would any team cut out a big chunk of potential? Why would any team put limitations on their offense?

    Stats don’t always tell a story. You can hire a statistician and he’ll tell you do nothing but pump 3s and stuff it under the rim when it is there. Nothing else.

    There is a reason why you’ll probably never find a successful coach who was previously a statistician. Because the game is a lot more than numbers.

    If you are willing to exploit every inch of the offensive side of basketball you should be helping it in its entirety. Start taking parts of it away and you burden what you have left. Take away mid-range and defenses no longer have to worry about it and can just focus on shutting down the 3… so they can overplay the 3 and disregard the drive. Most perimeter drives don’t end right at the rim.

    Mid range game is a skill that isn’t being taught or focused on any longer. Every player on the court is outside practicing their 3s. And in that sense, I’m with Self in calling it “fools gold” because eventually it will catch up to you. It is hard to stay consistent at 3, especially when defenses start playing you to stop the 3.

    Attack from every spot on the floor and you are running your best offense possible, and you will keep defenses honest!


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