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Lost Art of the Mid-range Game

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Believe it or not, but there was a time when high school and college basketball did not have a 3 point line. It seems strange but when I was growing up you had to get fouled while making a shot to get a chance at a true 3 point play.

In the mid 80's the rule was changed to allow 3 point baskets and with it started the demise of the mid-range jump shot. What you have to understand is how the 3 pointer truly changed the game completely.

It went from an inside game to an outside game almost over-night. The true theory on basketball before was to take the shot closest to the basket and that resulted in big players who could put the ball in the basket with ease.

When the 3 point shot was born all that changed and players had to be guarded far away from the basket. This opened up the lane and really made it more of a balanced game but it messed things up for coaches.

To understand it completely you have to really look at the math of it. 50% on 2-pointers is equal to 40% on 3-pointers. So if a team makes 6 2-pointers, they only have to make 4 3-pointers to equal the points.

They could score more points per possession and that had a lot of coaches questioning the validity of the 18-footer for only 2 points.

While I was in college our coach called the 18-footer the worst shot in basketball. It was too far away to only get 2 points and not far enough for a 3-pointer. This feeling was everywhere among coaches and the mid-range game started to get used less and less.

Does the mid-range game still play a part in basketball? Of course it does and those who make it a part of their game are miles ahead of others. How many players today can drive past the man guarding them? Most of them can, but the problem doesn't come from there. The problem comes from the 2nd or 3rd levels of the defense.

Too many players get past the first defender only to dribble or drive right into the next level of the defense. The best offensive players realize this and get a shot off prior to reaching the other levels of the defense. That is the 10-15 foot area. Nobody is better in the NBA right now than Deron Williams. He gets past his first player on a pick-and-roll and rarely goes all the way to the basket. He uses it as a threat to the 2nd level of the defense.

Once the pick is made he simply hesitates and if the defender comes at him he will go around him or dish to an open player. If not, he simply takes that 15 foot shot with nobody on him and that's a great shot.

The mid-range game has a place in today's game if it is worked on. Players need to understand that it's ok to shoot an uncontested 15 footer or a 10 foot shot off a jump stop. The problem is that these aren't practiced enough.

Coaches need to work with players in all areas of the game. My college coach didn't even allow us to shoot contested 15 footers because it wasn't a layup or a 3-pointer and to this day I feel like we suffered from that philosophy.

What are your thoughts?

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