By David Max
Growing up, I watched sports as intently as a seasoned sports writer. I spent hours on end watching the NBA in the 90’s. While other boys were outside riding bikes, and climbing trees, I was watching Penny & Shaq trying to knock off the Bulls. I was watching Run TMC put Oakland basketball on the map. In the 2000’s I was glued to the TV, watching as many games as I could. I was the guy with League Pass watching the Sixers play the Bucks and the Sonics play the Pistons -back when skill, fundamentals and the mid-range jump shot still mattered.
In today’s game there is still plenty of entertainment value; However, because of my love for the game, it hurts my heart sometimes to see so much isolation play. -So many ill advised shots for the sake of wanting to be the man. Gone are the days of resetting the offense after an offensive rebound. Why? Firing up a contested 3 is way more appealing these days. 3 on 1 fast break: “From downtown….” Steph Curry makes it look good, so some second stringer with a horrible haircut and a broken jumper fires from long range. Difference is Steph obviously works on his shooting touch -rep after rep… after rep… How do I know? He’s shooting 45% from deep. That’s no accident. More importantly he’s making 2 point shots at a 57% clip. Meaning he’s scoring from all over the floor. Meaning he’s more than just a long range threat.
In the 90’s Jordan predominantly worked between 10-18 feet from the basket. Shooting from deep was reserved for being open, or just for for specialist. Like Dennis Scott, Dell Curry, Nick Anderson, and Sam Cassell to name a few. But even they had to be open. In the 2000’s Rip Hamilton was the king of the mid-range. He was absolutely unstoppable from 15 feet out. Ray Allen as deadly as he was from outside, would head fake, get his man in the air, go around them and nail a mid-range J. That’s if he didn’t decide to put you on a poster. My point is, that was the last Era of great shot selection and high basketball i.q. Current king of the mid-range is Chris Paul. Deadly. However it’s only a handful of players who seem like they work on their overall game let alone from 15′ out. Hell this generation of players barely work on their free throws. Now I don’t want to come off as the old man yelling “get off my lawn”, but I just get frustrated with the lack of high percentage shot selections. Every college game I watch shows me there’s another crop of kids coming in with bad habits, and a penchant for chucking up 25-foot bombs, hoping to get noticed by an NBA scout or ESPN. Is it bad coaching or just the direction the League is headed?