DeMar DeRozan is bringing the mid-range jumper back
Yes, three is one more than two, but why take a three point shot that is farther away when you can have much success scoring at a higher rate taking a shot that is just a few steps in. That is Demar Derozan’s logic and it has seemed to pan out pretty well for him over the past few seasons, especially this season as he leads the league in scoring early on, averaging 34 points per game, shooting 53 percent from the field.
In a league that has gone away from the mid range shot and resorted to fast pace, abundant three-point shooting, Demar Derozan is going back in time to the not-so-distant past where players like Dwayne Wade and to some extent Kobe Bryant dominated the NBA with the mid-range shot. Bryant and Wade are two of the best players of all time and certainly two of the best to ever play the shooting guard position. 79 percent of the shots Bryant took throughout his career were two pointers and 91 percent of the shots Wade has taken throughout his career thus far have been two pointers. Combined they have three scoring titles and eight championships, so something must have worked for them. Demar Derozan recognizes that and realizes the mid-range game should have never drifted away from the rest of the league. Throughout his career, especially the past few seasons he has been using the two point shot to his full advantage and is succeeding while doing so.
Since the start of Demar’s career, critics have been saying he can’t shoot threes and will never be a prolific scorer because of his inability to shoot the three-point shot in today’s three-point shooting based game. Although it may be true that he’s not a very good three-point shooter, he is certainly proving everyone wrong who said he would not be a prolific scorer. As Demar’s teammate, Kyle Lowry, an all-star point guard, said, “That’s his game. People say he don’t shoot threes, it don’t matter.” Not only is he prolific, he is creative. Most of his two-pointers have come from mastering the mid-range game, which includes pull-up jumpers and backing defenders down and shooting a fadeaway. He also has dominated defenders taking them off the dribble and to the hoop and getting to the free throw line at a high rate. So why does it matter that he’s defying the current NBA landscape to dominate in his own way? Well it shouldn’t considering the success Demar is having on a personal level, leading the league in scoring (if I didn’t mention that earlier), and on a team level as the Raptors are looking at an early 7-2 record after the first 9 games, coming off a conference finals appearance the season before. The lack of three-point shooting by Demar has rubbed off on his team, as his team is 24th in the league in three-pointers attempted and 28th in the league in three-pointers made. His team is still finding success and looking like a top team in the eastern conference as the Raptors look to build on their previous season, which was the best in franchise history.
To put into perspective how much Demar utilizes two-pointers and how infrequently he shoots threes in comparison to where the rest of the league is at, let me give you some numbers. Demar has made just 3 threes this season (230th in the NBA) and attempted only 14 (192nd in the NBA). Demar has made 112 2-point shots and attempted 204, first in the NBA in both categories. Just to reiterate his success at the free throw line I stated earlier, he is fifth in the league in free throws attempted per game and eighth in free throws made per game. Six Percent of the shots Demar has taken this season have been three pointers, that’s 1 in every 24 shots. Let’s compare where that percentage is with other top scoring guards in the league this season. Russell Westbrook shoots 26 percent of his shots as threes. 38 percent of Damian Lillard’s shots are threes, 43 percent of James Harden’s shots are threes, and finally Steph Curry shoots 57 percent of his shots as threes. So to put that into perspective, Demar Derozan shoots an incredibly low amount of threes compared to other top scoring guards in the league, and oh by the way, he still leads the league in scoring early on this season. So the question becomes as Demar attempts to defy the current landscape of the NBA, is three really better than two?
Written by: Sam Oshtry