As NBA teams get smarter about maximizing production, more and more teams are starting to understand that one of the most common shots in basketball is actually the worst and no team knows this better than the Houston Rockets.
With the advancement of stats in the NBA, one of the most important revelations has been the confirmation that the best shots in basketball are either at the rim or from 3-point range. These are the shots that provide the highest return on your investment. Meanwhile, the worst shots in basketball are the so-called “long-2s” or shots just inside the 3-point line.
The Rockets have been the biggest proponents of this thinking as they regularly take the fewest number of mid-range two-point shots in the NBA. But this year they have taken it to a new extreme.
Here is a heatmap of the Rockets’ shots this season produced at NBAsavant.com. The Rockets take almost no shots between the rim and the 3-point line:
Now compare that to the New York Knicks, one of the worst teams in the NBA:
Overall, the Rockets are taking 11.4 shots per game from 8-24 feet. Three years ago, the Rockets were taking 29.9 shots per game from that distance.
While the Rockets are getting to the basket a little more, for the most part, the mid-range 2-point shots are being replaced by 3-point shots. The Rockets are taking a whopping 33.9 3-point shots per game, 6.7 per game more than any other team and 12.0 more than the league average.
Of course, teams still need the right kind of talent to pull of an offence like this and it helps that the Rockets have MVP candidate James Harden, who is leading the NBA in scoring (26.9 points per game). Harden is both a good 3-point shooter and excellent at getting to the basket.
But as more teams come to the realisation that mid-range shots are typically terrible for the well-being of their team, more teams are going to start building rosters around 3-point shooters and guys that can get inside and discarding players who shoot in between.
The result is going to be that the mid-range jump shot is going to go the way of the dodo and that area between the basket and the 3-point line is going to become no-man’s land.
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