2754250, He’s nearly singlehandedly changed analytics for the better.|
Posted by Frank Longo, Mon Jan-03-22 12:22 PM
Several years ago, analytics suggested that the mid-range 2 was an inferior shot, because it’s a harder shot to convert into points per possession— it doesn’t draw many fouls, it doesn’t earn as many points as a 3, it’s less likely to go in or draw a foul than something at the rim. So most teams went all in on this. And stars of all sizes started taking more 3s— even guys who are strong at the mid-range, like Durant, Embiid, George, etc, saw their 3PAs spike 3 to 5 seasons ago.
But that obviously doesn’t apply to DeRozan, yet DeRozan’s offense the last six to seven seasons has clearly converted into wins. He’s a positive win share player, positive BPM player, positive VORP player, but his style suggests through an older school of thought that he would *not* contribute to winning basketball.
Now analytics sees the value of teams having *a player or two* that are mid-range specialists. The majority of the players in the NBA have no business shooting mid-rangers, it’s true… but over the last several seasons, the benefit to having a star that can pull up and hit off-the-bounce long 2s is evident. More open looks for players beyond the perimeter and in the dunker spot— assuming your mid-range specialist converts at a high enough rate that he merits defensive attention on the long 2 pull-up. It’s not a coincidence that most of the best players and best teams have at least a guy who can and do shoot that with regularity. Last year we had Khris Middleton, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker, three of the 10 best mid-range shooters in the NBA imo, in the Finals. And Jokic, one of the best mid-range shooters in recent NBA history, won MVP.
I know some people might read this and think “wow, the most winning players in the league can make shots from anywhere. News at 11.” And, y’know, fair enough, lol. But when Steph and the Warriors won, nearly every major player started saying “I’m gonna shoot more 3s and fewer mid-range 2s.” That’s undeniable. These guys are now increasingly willing to shoot mid-range, cuz they’re great at it, but they were leaning into the 3-pointer a few years back with increased frequency.
And really, the *only* player who never really succumbed to that was DeRozan. And his efficiency just kept improving. And now analytics understands better the value of mid-range basketball. And okay, it’s obviously not *just* through DeRozan that people better understood a midrange shooter’s analytical value, and my subject line is a little clickbait admittedly, but he’s the poster child for the movement. I think that deserves a good deal of credit.