It is a common philosophy for most NBA offenses today to take advantage of analytics and go for the most efficient shots. The belief used to be that the closer you are to the basket, the better the shot is. Nowadays, however, good shots include those from beyond the arc, courtesy of one Wardell Stephen Curry.
This leaves the iconic midrange shot in a rather awkward position; these shots are taken at a distance, without the benefit of the additional 1 point that the 3-point shot provides. Hence, it is perceived to be the least efficient shot in basketball.
That’s not to say that the midrange shot is dead and useless, however. Loads of game-tying shots and game-winners have been taken in the midrange area. It also lends an air of unpredictability to players who have mastered it, leading to more effective hesitations and pump fakes. It is still an extremely useful shot to have in a player’s repertoire.
For this piece, we look at the 10 deadliest midrange scorers in the NBA today. We will strictly be considering current ability only, as well as current statistics. The volume of midrange shots for each player will be taken into account as well. Lastly, we’ll also be defining the “midrange shot” as being a shot taken from between the key and the three-point line.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the list of the greatest midrange killers of today.
10) Devin Booker
DBook is one of the league’s great scorers today, compared to and trained by the late, great Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba’s influence is clearly visible in the former’s formidable offensive game.
The Phoenix Sun is a crafty scorer with a reliable post game and excellent handling and shooting ability. He’s utilized all these skills to be a serious threat from midrange. Booker is currently averaging 2.2 midrange field goals a game, at a 45.2% efficiency, which has remained about constant all throughout the years.
The 24-year old is currently scoring 22.2 PPG this season, a bit below his career average of 22.5 points. Nevertheless, his Phoenix Suns are flourishing with him and the newly-acquired Chris Paul at the helm of Coach Monty Williams’ offense. Book and the Suns are looking good to finally make the NBA Playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, and they’re doing it even with their star player not playing his brilliant best.
9) C.J. McCollum
Shooters shoot, and C.J. McCollum certainly does not shy away from letting it fly from anywhere, whether it be the three-point area or the midrange.
The Portland Trailblazer has been one of the best scorers in the league, and arguably one of the best players today without a single All-Star appearance. He is excellent from the midrange, with around 2 makes a game at a 53.1% clip. He also came fifth in midrange field goals converted last season, with 2.2. shots made on 4.4 attempts. This dynamic scoring ability has served McCollum tremendously all throughout his career; he has weaponized the perimeter to great effect in his 18-19 PPG career.
McCollum is having a sensational 2020-21 season, scoring almost 27 PPG before his injury ruled him out for about 4 weeks. His Portland Trailblazers will need him back ASAP if they hope to remain competitive in a Western Conference that’s been keeping the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets out of the NBA Playoffs.
8) Jaylen Brown
After years of trying to break out, it seems as though Jaylen Brown is about to have his first All-Star season.
Brown has been scintillatingly good in recent times. The 6’6” swingman has been the Boston Celtics’ best player to start the 2020-21 campaign, with Kemba Walker sidelined due to injury and some rather inconsistent shooting from Jayson Tatum. Brown is currently averaging more than 25 points per game, good enough for 10th overall in the league. He has been great from three as usual, but he’s embraced the midrange shot as well. Brown is currently shooting the middy at an excellent 63.3 percent at 2.6 attempts a game.
A sure and steady hand for the C’s, Brown will hope to continue his excellence in scoring to maintain Boston’s 1st-seed standing in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t hurt for him to maintain his efficiency from the midrange, either.
7) Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton is a very efficient shooter at a pretty respectable volume. Few players can be more of a perfect fit with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The 2x All-Star has had a sensational couple of seasons on his belt, and he’s accomplished much due to his fantastic stroke from three and, indeed, the midrange. His efficiency is currently hovering around the 50-40-90 mark, while currently shooting at 47.5% from 10-16 feet, on 4.5 attempts. Additionally, he led the NBA in midrange makes last Playoffs, with 3.2 shots converted at a 46.4% clip.
Khash Money is indeed money from midrange, although some Bucks fans would prefer that he take a few steps back to the three-point line for that additional space and the extra point.
6) Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is one of those players who gets compared to Michael Jordan all the time; he is a brilliant defender, has remarkably large hands, and of course, the midrange pull-up game.
The current has started slow for the 2x Champion and NBA Finals MVP, with him only converting 37.5% of his shots from the midrange. However, he’s already proven in recent seasons that he is capable of an almost robotic-like efficiency from that range; he actually came second only to LaMarcus Aldridge last season in midrange attempts (and third to Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan in makes). Kawhi has made the midrange jumper his bread-and-butter move with his unorthodox, rather stiff-looking shot.
Despite Leonard struggling from the midrange to start the season, he’s still averaging around 25 points per game on a ridiculous 50% shooting from the field; his L.A. Clippers have also been flying in the Western Conference, as they sit joint top with the L.A. Lakers.
5) DeMar DeRozan
Like former Toronto Raptor Vince Carter, DeMar DeRozan has been endlessly compared to both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. DeRozan’s scoring and athletic ability do match up to the greats, but it’s his proficiency from the midrange which drives the comparisons home.
DeMar DeRozan is one of those players who are both renowned and criticized for their midrange shooting. He has been known to be one of the best midrange shooters in the league for quite some time now; the 4x NBA All-Star has been consistently near the top of the league in terms of midrange field goal attempts and makes. Unfortunately, it’s been a continuous knock on DeRozan that he shoots too many jumpers from the midrange, and not enough from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, he’s managed to carve out a 20 point-per-game career being a predominantly-midrange scorer.
DeRozan’s San Antonio Spurs career has not been the most successful; Coach Greg Popovich’s squad is fresh off a missed Playoff berth, the team’s first in 22 years. He and the team look to improve on their past season as they currently sit at the 8th seed of a highly-competitive Western Conference.
4) Bradley Beal
Statistically, Bradley Beal is the best midrange scorer in the NBA right now.
Of course, the small sample size of games played this season must be taken into account. Nevertheless, the Washington Wizard has still been one of the best midrange assassins prior to this season; he has just been absolutely spectacular in the scoring department this year and has dominated the midrange area, on his way to leading the league with almost 35 points per contest. Beal is currently putting up league-leading splits of 4.1 makes from midrange at a 56.2% clip.
The 2x All-Star is currently playing the best basketball of his already-impressive career. Unfortunately for Beal, his Wizards are currently sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference at a 3-8 standing despite his scoring heroics. The Wizards would do well to build a better team around their star shooting guard, lest they waste the best years of his career.
3) Chris Paul
CP3 turning the corner after a pick-and-roll and swishing a middy? What a beautiful sight.
Chris Paul has always been a proficient midrange shooter, with his crafty handle and expert playmaking ability creating all kinds of space for him to operate. He’s adapted his game further to the three-point line, but the veteran point guard never abandoned the midrange. For this season, he is making around 50% of these shots, with 4.7 attempts a game. H was also the most efficient shooter out of all players who shot more than 4 midrange jumpers a game last season, wherein he shot 54% on 4.3 attempts.
Paul is on a mission to make every team he ends up in better. He’s done it with the then-New Orleans Hornets, the L.A. Clippers, the Houston Rockets, and the Oklahoma City Thunder; the Point God is getting it done with the Phoenix Suns who are rolling near the top of the Western Conference right now.
2) LaMarcus Aldridge
The 6-Time NBA All-Star is still a viable scoring threat from midrange, after all these years.
LaMarcus Aldridge has always been a consistently good midrange scorer. He’s been doing it ever since he was a young power forward with the Portland Trailblazers, and it’s the shot that he’s utilized ever since. This season proved to be no different, as he’s shot a 52.5% clip from the midrange area, at a remarkable volume of 6.7 attempts a game (2nd behind Bradley Beal). LA was also making the most midrange shots a game in the previous season, with 3.0 at a 44.9% efficiency; he’s consistently either topping or nearing the top of the league with regards to this statistic.
Despite Aldridge continuing his proficiency in the midrange area, he’s currently averaging his lowest PPG this season since his rookie year. His San Antonio Spurs haven’t been at their best in recent times either; they just failed to reach the Playoffs last season for the first time in 22 years. Additionally, the team has been criticized for having LA and DeMar DeRozan as their franchise players, with both being aging, predominantly midrange scorers. It will be interesting to see where the Spurs go from here, and whether or not they’ll stick to their veteran guns or hand the keys to the offense over to their younger players.
1) Kevin Durant
Is Kevin Durant the most unstoppable scorer of all time? Perhaps.
It is common knowledge in the basketball world that KD is one of the greatest scorers in the history of the sport. How could he not be? The man is a world-class shooter and ball-handler while being taller than most NBA centers; this gives him the rare ability to simply shoot over everyone.
He is an elite scorer from all three levels, not least the midrange area. Defenders everywhere are wary of his fadeaway from the post, as well as his patented crossover-jumper combo from the wing. He is currently taking almost 6 shots a game from the midrange, and making 49.2% of them.
It’s this type of ability that’s allowed him to remain a top player in the league even after his devastating Achilles rupture. He’s looked every bit as good a scorer in Brooklyn Nets colors as he has been with the Warriors and the Thunder. KD and the Nets now look to be title contenders with arguably the greatest offensive trio in history, with the Slim Reaper flanked by fellow elite scorers James Harden and Kyrie Irving.