San Antonio Spurs teammates LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both heavily rely on mid-range shots attempts to generate their offense.
Aldridge led the league with 553 mid-range field goal attempts last season. DeRozan, who was traded to San Antonio this offseason, led the Eastern Conference with 504 mid-range attempts for the Toronto Raptors. They both ranked Top 5 in total field goals made from that zone, averaging a combined 5.8 made shots per game.
Toronto took 1,016 field goal attempts from the mid-range last year. Aldridge and DeRozan combined for 1,057 mid-range field goal attempts, which was more than five teams in the NBA.
They both shot 42.5 percent on mid-range attempts, a better rate than all but five teams.
Aldridge averaged 0.853 points per possession on these attempts while DeRozan averaged 0.828 PPP. Both were in the Top 25 when ranking the most efficient players who had at least 2.0 opportunities per game.
The Spurs are clearly going to zig while other teams around the league are zagging. Here’s what Rob Mahoney wrote about their offense after trading away Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green (via Sports Illustrated):
“San Antonio clearly thinks the game differently. After running one of the more crowded offenses in the league a season ago, the Spurs have doubled down on congestion by trading Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for a package built around DeMar DeRozan. Gone are two of San Antonio’s best perimeter shooters. In their place, DeRozan—a bastion of the mid-range game—will vie for the same arcs and spaces used most by LaMarcus Aldridge.”
According to NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, players for San Antonio are “more likely to be positioned” in the mid-range area. This allows them to take more catch-and-shoot attempts in the two-point range, which can be a helpful way to improve their accuracy.
While it may lead to odd floor spacing compared to other teams, the problem is not with the shot type but rather with the lack of efficiency. But because this is a strength for Aldridge and DeRozan, the Spurs have more incentive to shoot (and should fare better than other teams) from mid-range.