Spurs are Kings of Mid-Range after 32 games

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Through 32 games, the San Antonio Spurs have the 5th most efficient offense in the NBA, as they’re scoring 109.8 Points per 100 Possessions. While the Spurs are the most accurate three point shooting team in the league with a percentage of 40.7%, they are right at the bottom of the league in generating points from the outside, as they only attempt 21.9 threes per game, ranked 29th in the NBA.

The Spurs also rank near the bottom of the league in generating points in the paint, as they’re only scoring 38.1 points per game from that area. With Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge’s ability to draw free throws, the Spurs get 17.6% of their points from the free throw line, which is ranked 11th in the league. So, now, let’s look at the mid-range. The Spurs get 20.6% of their points from that area, which is best in the league.

In an era where teams are zigging by going away from the mid-range shot and mainly seeking looks in the paint and outside, the Spurs are zagging, by embracing the non-paint two. With San Antonio seeking the mid-range shot, they’ve turned it into a weapon that has given them a Top-5 offense. So, who are some of the Spurs’ mid-range shot takers? There’s mainly six of the them on the team – Jonathon Simmons, Patty Mills, Leonard, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Aldridge. The chart below displays the Spurs’ core players who get more than 10% of their points from the mid-range and their mid-range shots per game.

Players% of Points from Mid-RangeMid-Range Attempts Per Game
Aldridge35.8%7.6
Gasol35.3%4.5
Parker30.8%3.5
Leonard22.5%6.0
Mills14.8%1.8
Simmons14.1%1.2

Let’s go back to overall team statistics. The Cleveland Cavaliers as a team shoot 39.0% from the mid-range, which is considered the league average mark. The Spurs are as a team attempts 25.6 mid-range shots per game (2nd most in NBA) and make 10.8 per game (Most in NBA). The six players above for the Spurs generate 24.6 of their 25.6 mid-range shots each night. In terms of accuracy, the Spurs knock down 42.3% of their shots from mid-range, ranked 5th best in the NBA and above league average.

So now, the next chart below shows you just how lethal some of the Spurs’ key mid-range shooters can be. Of their six players, only Simmons is shooting below league average from mid-range. Gasol is shooting almost 10% above league average, while Aldridge in his past two games has helped bring his percentage from below to above league average.

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With 39% of their season completed, the Spurs are showing that while the trend in the league is to go away from the mid-range shot, they’re the ones who are embracing it and still turning in an efficient product. Here’s something to consider though – over the last two seasons, the two teams who were last left standing in June were the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Both those teams in the past two regular seasons got less than 15% of their points from the mid-range and over 29% of their points from beyond the arc.

Can the Spurs earn a trip to the final stage in basketball using a different offensive method? That will be the question come April.

Statistics via NBA.com/stats

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