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The Mid-Range Assassins: Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal

The game of basketball has changed a lot over the years. For a long time there was no three point line. Now its hard to imagine the game without one. Zone defenses were not allowed in the NBA for a long time. Now zone defense has become an integral part of defensive strategy for NBA teams. Another part of the game that we have seen change is what shots are encouraged to be taken.

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There is an emphasis on getting lay-ups, shooting three-pointers, and getting to the free throw line. We saw this philosophy work in a major way when James Harden was in the Most Valuable Player conversation on a consistent basis while playing for the Houston Rockets. The math or analytics frown upon shooting shots in between the restricted area and the three point line. This area is known as the mid-range.

There are a lot of players who became great scorers by being efficient mid-range shooters. Some of these players are so good in that range that they break the mold of modern math in basketball. The Phoenix Suns have three of the best mid-range scorers in the NBA.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant’s height gives him the ability to shoot over anyone. So, when he is driving to the rim and a player stays in front of him, Durant just pulls up and shoots the jumper with no issue.

Last season, Durant shot 56% from the mid-range on seven shots per game. He had the highest percentage among anyone who shot 3.1 or more mid-range shots per game. The former Texas Longhorn was only second behind DeMar DeRozan in mid-range attempts per game. Derozan averaged 9.1 mid-range shots per game last season.

The new math that tells coaches and players that mid-range shots are bad, does not apply to Durant. It also doesn’t apply to Devin Booker.

Devin Booker

Last season Devin Booker shot 49% on 5.8 mid-range shots per game. This was the fourth most shots from the mid-range in the NBA.

The long time Phoenix Sun has mastered the mid-range jumper. The Suns looked to be unstoppable when Durant and Booker were both hitting their shots. Late last season we saw glimpses of how special this combo can be. Then in the off-season the Suns added Bradley Beal to the roster.

Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal shot 47% from the mid-range on 4.2 shots per game, last season. This is while playing for the Washington Wizards.

Beal is going to have more open shots this year than he has had in his basketball career. He should shoot a higher percentage from not only mid-range but from every spot on the floor.

NBA defenses are usually built to force mid-range jumpers as they want to take away lay-ups and open three-pointers. The Suns won’t be concerned with defenses that run Durant, Booker, and Beal off of the three point line as this is the best trio of mid-range shooters in NBA history. The fact that teams cannot take away the strength of Phoenix’s best scorers, may make them unstoppable on offense.

Will this be the greatest offensive team of all-time?

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