I will almost never post about [pundit] said [pundit thing] because it is ruining sports media and it’s already ruined ESPN. But, I can’t help myself here. Tim Legler was on 97.5 today to talk about the lottery and draft and give his expert opinion on the Sixers. I didn’t listen to the interview because I could not give less of a shit what Legler has to say (nothing personal), but in following along with 97.5’s Twitter feed it was obvious that talking head said talking head thing:
Forgetting about my love of Wiggins for a moment (and that inane and supremely obvious upside analysis), let’s talk stats. I’m hardly a hoops analytics guy, but one thing I do know – and know that the Sixers know, too – is that the mid-range jumper is the least efficient shot in basketball. And indeed, under Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown, the Sixers have swung from one of its biggest proponents (under antiquated Doug Collins) to THE TEAM THAT TAKES THE SECOND FEWEST MID-RANGE JUMPERS PER GAME, just behind the Houston Rockets, not coincidentally Hinkie’s old team.
Last season, Philadelphia was No. 1 in mid-range shots per game. In 2011-12, the Sixers were No. 2 in that category. Now only the Rockets take fewer mid-range shots. What changed, other than Jrue Holiday being replaced with Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten? Well, Houston’s front office No. 2 Sam Hinkie took over the Sixers and hired a like-minded coach to run the team.
The distaste of mid-range shots is a paper thing — plenty of theoretical arguments for the mid-range jumper have been made, but the math is unconvinced. Analysts like to believe that having good mid-range shooters opens the floor to slashers and post players, that taking long jumpers keeps the floor balanced and protects against doubling or packing the paint. It makes sense, but the math keeps telling us that mid-range shots don’t add enough to make up for the fact that they are inefficient shots compared to other options.
Houston GM Daryl Morey and Philly’s Hinkie are the most visible heavy-math GMs in the league. Their teams are at the bottom of the list in mid-range shot frequency. That’s not a coincidence. It’s not the only thing that matters, of course — the Rockets are No. 3 in offense, the Sixers No. 26. But at this point, it would seem plenty of teams could benefit from taking the analytic approach here and relying less on the mid-range.
In other words: Statistically speaking, which is how Hinkie likes to speak, the Sixers hate the mid-range jump shot. Yet here’s Legler, basketball guru, citing Jabari Parker’s mid-range game as a reason why the Sixers should draft him over Andrew Wiggins. Thanks, pundit.