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Marcus Camby and the mid-range jumper

Mar 12, 2010, 6:41 PM EST

Portland Trail Blazers center Marcus Camby had a strange stat line in last night’s game against the Golden State Warriors. Camby was able to dominate the undersized Warriors on the boards, finishing the game with 17 rebounds. However, Camby bricked both of his jump shots in the game and had trouble finishing at the rim, and made only one of his seven attempts from the field. 

Since the guys who grab a lot of rebounds are usually the guys taking the highest-percentage shots, it’s rare to see someone finish with 17 rebounds while shooting so poorly from the field. Camby is different. Since the 1986-87 season, a player has grabbed more than 17 rebounds while shooting worse than 1-7 from the field 25 times. It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar to Camby’s career that Camby is the current master of the high-rebound/low shooting percentage game. Camby has gotten 17 or more rebounds while shooting 1-7 from the field or worse six times in his career. Dennis Rodman also has six of the aforementioned games. The only other players who have managed to get that odd single-game stat line multiple times are Jayson Williams and Michael Cage, who each did it twice. (Sorry if that was confusing to read. If you click the link, I promise it’s easier to see what I’m talking about.)
To be fair to Camby, his shot selection wasn’t that bad against the Warriors last night. Camby only took two jumpers; the rest of his misses were on botched layups, which Camby has been plagued by during his eight games with the Blazers. 
Even still, Camby did launch two of those slingshot jumpers from the top of the key, and it was tough to watch. Marcus Camby has the size of a true center, an insane wingspan, and is very athletic for his size. That’s why Camby has been a very good defender and rebounder throughout his career. What is, was, and always has been strange about Camby’s game is that Camby seems completely unwilling to utilize his physical gifts on the offensive end, instead choosing to settle for a shot he’s not very good at over and over again. 
In the past, Camby made about 40% of his jumpers from the top of the key. Because he made a fair amount of jumpers and theoretically stretched the floor a bit, it wasn’t entirely unacceptable for Camby to so many of his signature slingshot jumpers. 
This season, there’s simply no reason for Camby to be shooting those jumpers. He no longer making an acceptable amount of them; Camby shot 27% from 16-23 feet in Los Angeles while taking two attempts per game from that range. According to NBA Hotspots, Camby has made 19% of his jumpers from the top of the circle this season. Camby is no longer stretching the floor, either; in the game against the Warriors last night, it was obvious that the Warriors were perfectly content to let Camby shoot from outside. Finally, Camby starts alongside LaMarus Aldridge, who is an extremely confident midrange shooter for a big man. If Camby parks himself under the basket, it’ll free up Aldridge to shoot from his favorite spots on the floor. 
Camby is what he is; a very talented big man who’s shot better than 50% from the field in three out of his 14 NBA seasons. If Camby can end his decade-long love affair with the deep jumper and play like the true center he was born to be, it could help Portland’s chances of hanging onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

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