The tweet that sparked a debate: Who are the best NBA mid-range shooters of all time?
A tweet posted on August 20, 2023, has gone viral for ranking the top five mid-range shooters.
The viral post received numerous likes and reposts, as well as hundreds of comments from basketball fans who agree or disagree with the list. Some of the most common reactions are:
- “How can you leave out Rip Hamilton, one of the most consistent and clutch mid-range shooters in NBA history?“
- “What about Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and other elite scorers who can hit from anywhere on the floor?“
- “Shaun Livingston at number one? Really? He was a great role player, but not even close to the level of the other names on the list.“
- “Kawhi Leonard is too low. He has one of the most efficient and effective mid-range games in the league today.“
- “Chris Paul is underrated. He is a master of the mid-range pull-up and has made countless big shots from that range throughout his career.“
In this article, we will examine the arguments for and against the tweet’s ranking, and try to determine who are the best mid-range shooters of all time.
What exactly is mid-range shooting?
Before we dive into the debate, let’s first define what we mean by mid-range shooting. Mid-range shooting is generally considered to be any shot that is taken between the three-point line and the paint, or roughly 16 to 23 feet from the basket. Mid-range shots are often considered to be inefficient and undesirable in today’s NBA, where teams favor either layups, dunks, or three-pointers as their primary scoring options. However, some players have mastered the art of mid-range shooting and use it as a weapon to create space, exploit mismatches, and score in crunch time.
Why is mid-range shooting important?
Despite the analytics that suggest that mid-range shots are not worth taking, there are several reasons why mid-range shooting is still important and valuable in the NBA. Some of them are:
- Mid-range shooting adds versatility and unpredictability to a player’s offensive arsenal. A player who can score from multiple levels can keep defenders guessing and off-balance, opening up opportunities for themselves and their teammates.
- Mid-range shooting allows a player to take advantage of what the defense gives them. Sometimes, defenses will sag off or go under screens to prevent drives or three-point attempts, leaving the mid-range area open. A player who can knock down those shots can punish the defense for their strategy and force them to adjust.
- Mid-range shooting is crucial in late-game situations, when defenses tighten up and contest every shot. A player who can create separation and hit tough shots from mid-range can be a clutch performer and a closer for their team.
Who are the best mid-range shooters of all time?
Now that we have established what mid-range shooting is and why it matters, let’s get back to the tweet that started this discussion. Who are the best mid-range shooters of all time? Of course, this is a subjective question that depends on many factors, such as era, style, efficiency, volume, difficulty, impact, etc. However, based on some statistics and opinions from experts and fans, here are some of the candidates that deserve consideration:
- Michael Jordan: The GOAT is also widely regarded as the best mid-range shooter of all time. Jordan had an unstoppable fadeaway jumper that he used to dominate his opponents and win six NBA championships. According to Basketball Reference, Jordan shot 51% from 10 to 16 feet and 41% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career, well above the league averages.
- Rip Hamilton: The masked man was one of the most consistent and clutch mid-range shooters in NBA history. Hamilton was a key part of the Detroit Pistons’ championship team in 2004, where he averaged 21.5 points per game on 49% shooting from the field. According to Basketball Reference, Hamilton shot 48% from 10 to 16 feet and 44% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career.
- Kevin Durant: Durant’s combination of height, length, and shooting touch has made him one of the most unguardable scorers in NBA history. His ability to pull up for a mid-range jumper over defenders makes him a deadly offensive weapon. According to Basketball Reference, Durant has shot 49% from 10 to 16 feet and 43% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career.
- Kawhi Leonard: Kawhi is known for his defensive prowess, but his offensive game, particularly his mid-range shot, should not be underestimated. Leonard’s ability to create space and rise up for a shot over defenders has been a trademark of his scoring ability. According to Basketball Reference, Leonard has shot 48% from 10 to 16 feet and 43% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career.
- Dirk Nowitzki: The seven-foot German revolutionized the power forward position with his ability to shoot from long range. While he was known for his deadly three-point shot, Nowitzki also possessed a lethal mid-range game that was nearly impossible to defend due to his height and high release point. According to Basketball Reference, Nowitzki shot 47% from 10 to 16 feet and 42% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career.
- Kobe Bryant: The Black Mamba was heavily influenced by Jordan and modeled his game after him. Bryant was a prolific scorer who could hit tough shots from anywhere on the court, especially from mid-range. According to Basketball Reference, Bryant shot 45% from 10 to 16 feet and 40% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career, also above the league averages.
- Chris Paul: As mentioned earlier, Chris Paul is a master of the mid-range pull-up shot. His ability to stop on a dime and elevate for a jumper is unparalleled, making him a consistent threat from that range throughout his career. According to Basketball Reference, Paul has shot 45% from 10 to 16 feet and 42% from 16 feet to the three-point line for his career.
- Carmelo Anthony: Carmelo Anthony, a dynamic force on the court, possesses an enviable mid-range game that has left defenders grappling with his scoring prowess. While his reputation as a versatile scorer extends to various parts of the court, his mid-range shooting deserves recognition. With a unique blend of footwork and shot-making ability, Carmelo proved himself a consistent threat from the mid-range area throughout his career. His knack for creating separation and elevating for a smooth jumper has made him a challenge for defenders to contain. While specific statistics might vary, Carmelo’s mid-range efficiency and his impact on the game cannot be overlooked, making him a notable contender in discussions about the best mid-range shooters in NBA history.
In conclusion, the debate about the best mid-range shooters of all time will always be a subjective one, as different eras, styles, and preferences come into play. Players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are often mentioned as the top contenders due to their dominance and influence on the game. However, newer players like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant have also proven themselves to be elite mid-range shooters. Ultimately, the importance of mid-range shooting lies in its ability to add versatility, exploit defenses, and deliver in clutch situations, making it an essential aspect of a player’s offensive repertoire.