Today it's a relic, almost as dated as the two-handed set shot or a wooden backboard, replaced by slashing attacks on the basket and three-point attempts.
Consider Stephen Curry, the NBA's No. 1 offensive threat. He thrives behind the three-point line, but if a defender gives him a little space, he attacks the hoop, scoring on a variety of floaters and bank shots with either hand.
Rarely does the Golden State Warriors whiz settle for the mid-range jumper, basketball's lost shot. And he has plenty of company.
In fact, the mid-range jumper is widely considered the worst shot in basketball by today's players.
If a player is going to shoot a long two-pointer, the reasoning goes, he/she might as well step back and take a three-pointer. And if he's going for two points, why not take an easier shot, closer to the basket?
“In the NBA, nobody shoots the mid-range jumper,” Frankfort (Michigan) High School girls coach Tim Reznich says. “It's either dunks or 3s. That's what kids are seeing. When they go to the gym just to shoot around, you never see 'em taking 15 footers on their own, unless they're instructed to. Kids are either going deep or trying to dunk.”
But coaches like Reznich have enjoyed great success by placing a premium on mid-range shooting. He stresses mid-range shooting in drills, individual workouts, and practices. "It helps their [shooting] form, it helps their confidence, it helps the team. We try to do as much as we can at full speed.
“When we do form shooting, we start at the rim and then move out to 10, 12, and 15 feet. When we do shooting drills we work inside and outside the arc.”
Not only can players create more offense for themselves by developing a mid-range shot, but when pick-and-rolls fail they also have the option to step back and bury a jumper instead.
It also pays off when Reznich's center can come to the free-throw line and either pop a shot over a defender or pump-fake and drive to the hoop.
“It's a counter-move to anything the other team does. We have teams that just pack it in against us. But if we have the option of a mid-range shot.
“We shoot at the elbows, especially against zones. We try to get it to the elbows. We have a couple players who absolutely have the green light at the elbows. If you get the shot, take it.”