The NBA has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, driven in large part by the rise of analytics. One of the most debated aspects of this change has been the decline of the midrange shot. Once a staple of the game, the midrange has fallen out of favor as teams have embraced the “three-point revolution.”
In his book The Midrange Theory, author and NBA analyst Seth Partnow argues that the death of the midrange has been overstated. While it’s true that teams are taking fewer midrange shots than ever before, Partnow contends that this is not simply a matter of analytics dictating that the shot is inefficient. Rather, it’s the result of a complex interplay of factors, including changes in defensive strategies, the rise of the three-pointer, and the evolution of player skills.
The Rise of Analytics
The early 2000s saw a surge in the use of analytics in basketball. Teams began to collect and analyze data on everything from shot selection to player movement, using this information to inform their decision-making. One of the first areas to be affected was the midrange shot. Analytics showed that, on average, three-pointers and layups were more efficient shot options than midrange jumpers. This led to a decline in the use of the midrange, with teams opting for the “threes and layups” approach.
The Midrange Myth
However, Partnow argues that this simplistic interpretation of the data is misleading. He points out that the efficiency of a shot depends not just on its location on the court, but also on the context in which it is taken. A well-contested three-pointer may be a worse shot than a wide-open midrange jumper, even though the three-pointer is worth more points.
Partnow also highlights the importance of player skill. Great midrange shooters like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were able to convert these shots at a high rate, making them valuable offensive weapons. Simply eliminating the midrange from their repertoire would have made them less effective players.
The Future of the Midrange
So, is the midrange dead? Not necessarily. Partnow believes that there is still a place for the midrange shot in the modern game, but that teams need to be smarter about how they use it. He argues that teams should focus on developing skilled midrange shooters who can create their own shots and take advantage of mismatches.
The rise of analytics has undoubtedly changed the way basketball is played. But rather than seeing this as a negative development, Partnow argues that it is an opportunity to see the game in a new light. By understanding the data and using it to inform our decision-making, we can appreciate the complexity and beauty of basketball at a deeper level.
In addition to the points above, here are some other key takeaways from The Midrange Theory:
- The rise of analytics has led to a greater emphasis on spacing and ball movement.
- Teams are now placing more value on player versatility and the ability to play multiple positions.
- The game is becoming faster and more athletic.
- Analytics can be a valuable tool for coaches and players, but it is important to remember that it is not a substitute for good old-fashioned basketball IQ.
Overall, The Midrange Theory is a thought-provoking book that challenges us to rethink our understanding of basketball in the age of analytics. It is a must-read for any fan of the game who wants to go beyond the surface level and gain a deeper appreciation for its complexities.
DISCLAIMER: This team is based on the understanding, analysis, and instinct of the author. While selecting your team, consider the points mentioned and make your own decision.