There are good midrange shooters, there are midrange snipers, and then there’s Kevin Durant.
While Durant has long been a midrange assassin, he took his effectiveness from that distance to terrifying levels to start the 2021-22 season. According to NBA.com, he’s made – wait – 59.7% of his mid-range shooting attempts to start this season.
You probably don’t need me to tell you how impressive it is, but for a certain perspective: Durant is one of 81 players who attempted at least 15 midrange shots in the first three. weeks of the season. Want to guess how many of those players converted their midrange riders at a higher rate than Durant? Only four – Chris Paul (64.3%), Seth Curry (65.7%), Nikola Jokic (68.8%) and LaMarcus Aldridge (78.6%).
The kicker is not one of them who has done as much over this distance as Durant. In fact, no one in the whole league has.
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Durant’s 37 midrange goals are the most important in the league by a pretty big margin. Closest to him is DeMar DeRozan (29), followed by Paul George (28), Trae Young (26) and Dejounte Murray (26).
So, not only has Durant been the league’s most prolific midrange scorer so far this season, he’s been one of the most effective.
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Eleven-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, two-time champion, two-time Finals MVP and once MVP, Durant has, of course, been igniting mid-range opponents for over a decade at this point. It has long been his weapon of choice, even before his time in the NBA.
At 6ft 10in with a 7ft 5in wingspan, Durant has a natural height and length advantage over most defenders. Sometimes it’s as easy as shooting them.
Even crosses like Myles Turner don’t stand a chance to disrupt his shot.
If Durant feels like he needs a little more space, his fadeaway usually does the trick, giving him an even higher point of release.
He even has Dirk Nowitzki’s famous one-legged fadeaway in his bag.
With its comfort, playing against Durant is usually a losing game.
To tie a knot on it, Durant has the handle to do stuff like this regularly:
The suit gives Durant the tools to set fire to teams in isolation, off screens, off pick-and-rolls and at the post. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that it currently ranks in the 69th percentile or better for scoring effectiveness on these games.
The midrange isn’t even an effective shot for most, but it’s essentially a layup for Durant, and he feels like he can access it whenever he wants. While it helps that many defenses are geared toward giving up the midrange these days, most players with the size to challenge their jumper don’t have the speed to follow them out of the dribble and most players who have the speed to follow him off dribbling don’t have the size to challenge his shot.
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It usually doesn’t matter if someone is in Durant’s face, either. According to NBA.com, more than two-thirds (68.2%) of his shooting attempts this season have encountered tight coverage, meaning a defenseman is within two to four feet of him. His success rate on these looks? A ridiculous 57.3 percent.
Not all midrangers – there’s a decent amount of layups and mixed 3s because, oh yeah, he’s an effortless tri-level scorer – but a lot of them are.
It’s almost like everything else fails, Durant knows he can just stand up. Its mid-range sweater is the ultimate safety blanket.
Durant probably won’t shoot this Well midrange for the whole season, but again, it’s not like it’s new territory for him. Last season, he scored the 19th most field goals from the midrange despite only playing 35 games, with a rate of 50.6%. He then went nuts in the playoffs, logging in on 55.3% of his middies despite the damn PJ Tucker draped over him for seven straight games in the second round.
On the contrary, it seems that Durant only gets better and more and more out of control with age. The fact that it pulls the lights from the mid-range is proof of that.