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Josh Smith says no more threes, call him “mid-range shawty”

Oct 3, 2012, 2:36 AM EDT

Josh Smith AP

Among the training camp clichés that seem never pan out to be true — “we’re going to play faster this year” and “Player X has shot 500 jump shots a day this summer” are our favorites — is this classic from Atlanta:

Josh Smith says he will be better about his shot selection.

This year he says it’s the people around him that will get him to stop launching jumpers, via the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“You haven’t seen the roster?” Smith turned around a reporter’s question about his long-range shooting plans on a rebuilt Hawks roster. “We’ve got Kyle Korver, Devin Harris, Louis Williams, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Tolliver. Am I missing anyone? Jeff Teague. … So there we go. That answers that question. I didn’t even say my name did I? Call me mid-range shawty.”

Classic.

Except, he needs to be more selective from the midrange, too.

Last season Smith took 1.6 three pointers a game, down from 2 the season before. He shot 25.5 percent from three last year, so him cutting down on threes would be good.

But he took 6.3 shots per game from 16 feet out to the arc — long twos, the worst shot in basketball. And that was two more than the season before. He hit 37 percent of those twos, which is not a terrible percentage but that is just too many long twos a game to be efficient. Smith has got to get his looks closer in to the rim.

But it’s Josh Smith, I’ll believe he’s only taking and making midrange when I see it.

  1. moseskkim - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:41 AM

    It’s tough for smoove if he catches it just inside the 3. Teams will dare him to shoot it right there and so the temptation will be there all season. You’ll have to post him up a whole lot of u want to get his midrange shots down.

  2. superseahawk - Oct 3, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    It’s weird that he doesn’t make those outside shots, he’s got a beautiful looking jumper.

  3. nbascreed - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Kurt can you please tell me how the long two is the worst shot in basketball? I’d like to hear YOUR logic assuming you’re not just repeating what you’ve heard someone else say who also heard someone else say it who also heard someone else say it.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      Simple logic backed by stats (and it is a thought growing in NBA circles as more advanced statistics come in): The farther you are away from the basket the less likely you are to make a shot, so you are less likely to make an 20 footer than an 8 footer. That is true for Carmelo, Smith and pretty much everyone. You want to take the shots you are more likely to make. Also, if you take a deep 2 and hit, say, 37 percent of them but can step back three feet and hit 34 percent of your threes, that is a better choice because you get rewarded with more points for that percentage of threes.

      There are only a couple guys in the league who hit long twos at a rate that makes it work, guys like Dirk Nowitzki. But they are the exception to the rule.

      • nbascreed - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:15 AM

        1. First we need to define long two, mine is 18 inches inside the NBA and 12 for everything else. I don’t know what the advanced stats call it, but colloquial it is really a teaching term coaches use to help young shooters understand how to get a natural feel for where they are on the court and ensure that they aren’t taking 3’s with their feet on the line. Like I said the advanced stats guys may have changed the definition to fit their analysis but a long two has always been on the line or right inside the line. A pump fake and one strong dribble inside the line DO NOT constitute a long two, in my basketball playing opinion. Not sure I’ll ever let an advanced statistician talk me off that.

        2. “The further you are from the basket the less likely you are to make a shot” I cede this point, but you CAN’T use this to buttress your argument that the long two is the worse shot in basketball b/c the long two is closer than a 3 so using this logic alone the long two is a more “makeable” shot and thus a better shot than a 3.

        3. In order to apply the difference in point argument that you employ you have to use real stats. You say it’s logic backed by simple stats but then use clearly made up numbers of 37% from long two and 34% from three. This argument makes a ton of sense IF your percentages are right but I don’t think the spread b/t long two’s and threes is that close. I absolutely love spreadsheets and analysis so PLEASE point me in the direction of the data and I can run the numbers on this.

        4. What about the fadeaway 15 footer that any credible wing has in their arsenal shot, that’s got to be lower percentage than a straight up and down long two, no? What about the “deep three” that both Carmelo and KD are well known for and even Kobe in his younger days. Is that not a worse shot than a long two? I think 30 of 30 coaches would say yes, regardless of who is stroking the pill. Again, not sure how robust these advanced stats sites are, but I’d love to have a look at the data.

        In summary the term “worst shot in basketball” is colloquial and is used as a TEACHING mechanism for young shooters and wing players to help them understand court spacing and how to position themselves behind the line w/o having to constantly look down. I really hate when I hear fans actually applying that as a technical term to the game, b/c it clearly is NOT true (at least until I analyze the data vis-a-vis point 2).

        Again the only thing that makes your argument valid is actually running the numbers and finding they result in a spread that makes the 1 point difference in conversion worth taking a step back.

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