Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith is no longer taking deep mid-range shots this season, which has greatly improved his overall offensive efficiency.
Smith has completely changed his approach to his shot selection so far this season. The 30-year-old essentially abandoned his attempts from midrange, replacing them with three-pointers.
In an interview with HoopsHype, he mentioned several reasons for this switch – including the coaching change from Stan Van Gundy to Dwane Casey as well as the addition of Blake Griffin.
“It’s definitely a tribute to our coaching staff,” Smith told HoopsHype. “We put a lot of work into it. Our system is made to drive, kick, swing and then knock down wide-open threes. It’s my job to go run over and knock down those shots. That’s what the defense is giving me now.”
Approximately 40 percent of his shot attempts this season have been from three-point range, per Cleaning The Glass. With the exception of his 16-game stint with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013, his previous career-high was 18.5 percent in 2015-16. He has doubled his previous best in three-pointers per 36 minutes.
Smith said that working with his brother, as well former NBA player and assistant coach Tim Hardaway, gave him the confidence to step beyond the arc more often.
Previously, he had relied quite a bit on scoring from midrange. According to Synergy Sports, nearly 40 percent of his jump shots came from midrange last season. That frequency ranked in the 96th percentile among all players, per Cleaning the Glass.
He had been especially keen on shots from long midrange, one of the most challenging and least efficient attempts in basketball. Smith averaged 2.3 field goal attempts per game between 16 feet of the basket and the three-point line during his first season in Detroit. His total ranked No. 7 among all guards in the Eastern Conference.
During the first seven games of this season, Smith has taken just two total midrange attempts. When tracking him during a game, one will notice how Smith has shied away from the shot type that had been such a backbone in his career. He either attacks the basket, passes to an open teammate or makes space for a three-pointer.
“I feel really, really comfortable [on catch-and-shoot attempts],” Smith said. “I’m still not even where I want to be yet, but I’m taking huge strides to get there. We constantly work on this – every single day. But I just want to keep working at it and be efficient.”
The frequency with which he has been used on catch-and-shoot attempts has hovered between 7 percent and 12 percent since 2013. This year, Smith has increased that rate to 19.7 percent. He said that playing alongside Griffin has given him plenty more opportunity to succeed.
“Either you’re going to double team [Griffin] or he’s going to score, so when he gets double teamed, the rest of us get easy shots,” Smith explained. “If you can hit the three, they come out after you. So then you can get what you want, whether it’s to kick the ball out or go into the paint.”