Serving as a one of the most controversial topics in regards to basketball analytics is the discussion of the midrange shot. As analytics has flooded the basketball world, it’s no surprise that the midrange jumper is proving to be the most inefficient shot in the game. Will try not to bore you with the mathematical details of why this is true, but for those of you who are interested this post on Nylon Calculus (one of my favorite basketball analytics blogs!) does a great job of explaining expected value and shot selection.
My curiosity led me to look at how this relates to the WBBL. Are teams in our league still overusing the midrange jumper or are we (unknowingly) following the trend of the dying midrange shot? Unfortunately, specific stats on shot selection from last season are not available, so although I’d love to compare last season’s shot selection data with this season’s, I am unable to do so. Just looking at this season’s stats (rounds 1-4), I computed the percentage of FGs from midrange for each team in the league.
* = 1 – (% of FGA from 3) – (% of FGA from “close range”), where “close range” shots include post ups, around basket, and runners
The bolded teams are the teams that currently sit at the top of ladder. I definitely cannot say that there’s significant correlation between the amount of midrange shots taken and whether or not the teams are successful. There obviously isn’t enough data to come up with any meaningful relationships, BUT it’s interesting to see that the 2 teams that take the least amount of midrange jumpers are sitting at the top of the ladder and 2 teams that take the most midrange jumpers are sitting at the bottom half of the ladder. It’ll be fun to see how this data shapes out as we get further into the season.
It’s also important to realize that there are exceptions to every theory. Each individual’s shot selection will be unique to her/his particular skill set. For example, I wouldn’t tell Chris Paul of the Clippers to stop shooting midrange jumpers. He’s the best midrange shooter in the NBA who shot 51% from midrange last season. So, unless you have a Chris Paul on your team making over 50% of their midrange shots, maybe it’s best to stop shooting those inefficient jumpers and start taking more layups and 3 point attempts. Again, it will come down to the particular individual. I’m not advocating a horrible 3 point shooter should attempt more 3s. What I’m getting at there’s a potential strong probability that compiling your team with as many great close range finishers and great 3 point shooters will result in more wins.
So, will bidding farewell to the midrange shot result in a more successful team? Let’s see what the numbers reveal as the season marches on…