In the modern NBA, the game has been moving away from the mid-range jump shot. It is not efficient, the analytics guys say. But despite the ongoing debate about the shot, it has been a staple in several players' games. Take it from LaMarcus Aldridge, who continues to show the value of the orphaned shot of the analytics movement.
“In this day and age, the mid-range is considered a bad shot, I guess. But I got 19,000 some-odd points off the mid-range so you tell me it’s a bad shot, I don’t believe you,” said Aldridge on his specialty. “We understand teams are going to give up certain things and my mid-range was one of those things tonight. It won’t be every night but it was tonight against Philly.”
Aldridge, who is playing in his 16th season in the NBA, has built his prolific career around the mid-range both in the high and low post. In an era where 3-point shots continue to be more valued than twos, the Nets veteran big has remained true to his craft while integrating a 3-point arsenal as well. That mid-range dominance has led the seven-time All-Star to be 25 points shy from the 20,000 point-mark — a historic feat only 47 players in the history of the NBA have accomplished.
The NBA’s three-point revolution dates began to slowly rise since 2000 — when 17 percent of shots were threes — but the tremendous rise lifted off the tables during the 2016-17 season. The league saw the top team launch 40 percent of its shots from deep. Other teams took notice. The number of teams followed, with the number of teams putting p more than 40 percent beyond the arc ballooning to a total of nine teams in 2020.
Still, from the lift-off of the 3-point revolution to today, Aldridge stayed true to his signature mid-range craft — while implementing a three-point shot more at a higher rate. His shot, appropriately, looked like a brain hard at work!
Aldridge scored 65.6 percent of his points in the mid-range with Brooklyn last season (five games) and his last full season (2019-20 with the Spurs) it was 61.1 percent. That’s an increasing number. Since 2016-17, only 43 percent of his shots were from mid-range.
Although the Nets have played only two games, Aldridge’s mid-range has spoken volumes for Brooklyn thus far. Despite a shaky regular-season opener against the Bucks — a game he recorded only one point in 16 minutes of play — it was his play against the Sixers Friday night that helped Brooklyn climb out of a 14-point deficit and propel them to a hard-fought win.
“Well obviously he shot the ball well,” Steve Nash said after the Nets 114-109 comeback win against the Sixers. “Very well. He’s also just a smart defender. He knows the game plan and has a good feel. I thought he impacted the game at both ends of the floor. Proud of his performance.”
While Brooklyn experimented with their frontcourt options throughout the contest, Aldridge delivered down the stretch drilling his signature extended foul line jumpers through the pick-and-pop, and finishing the road game with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting to pair with five rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes per play.
“It just came naturally,” said Aldridge after Friday’s win. “I’d be lying if I said I felt like I was gonna do what I did. We talked pregame about my pick-and-popping, so we definitely had that in the bag and then James [Harden] found me late for the and-one. It was just trying to use the guys that were out there. I thought we all just started to play basketball, just make reads basically.”
Through the two games, 50.0 percent of Aldridge’s points scored have come in the mid-range while 83.3 percent came from 2-point field goals.
“He’s a force down there. He knows how to play. His IQ is high,” said Kevin Durant, another mid-range maestro, of Aldridge. His game is simple and basic. That’s what I enjoy the most; guys that can just do things quick, catch-and-shoot, turn around jump shots. That’s his game and he can finish at the rim,” “He’s just a smart player. So we just need to build off of this. You know, LaMarcus is gonna build off this, and we go from there.”
Already have, as the 76ers learned.
- LaMarcus Aldridge nearing 20,000 points on mostly mid-range jumpers - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News