But he sounds only minimally amenable.
According to LaVine, the organization’s numbers department is convinced that his mid-range game has to go away. For how long? LaVine wasn’t sure. Maybe it’s just a preseason thing or maybe it’s just until the new up-tempo offense finds its legs. Either way, LaVine feels like it’s killing an already “lost art.’’
“I mean I grew up being a Michael Jordan, Kobe [Bryant] fan,’’ LaVine said. “I know that some of the greatest scores in NBA history were mid-range, mid-post guys. It’s sad to see it be pushed to the side. I mean Carmelo [Anthony] is one of the greatest scorers ever, but he’s out of the NBA right now somewhat because the analytics don’t want mid-range twos.
“I think it takes away a little bit of the skillfulness and it takes away some of the weaponry. But I’ll tell you this, there’s still guys in the NBA – and I think I’m one of them – that can still get it done.’’
Players shouldn’t stop taking mid-range shots. Sometimes, those are the best shots available.
But shots at the rim and 3-pointers are generally more efficient. It’s usually worth seeking those first – especially with time remaining on the shot clock.
LaVine hasn’t struck the right balance. He forces many bad shots. In fact, he shot better on 3-pointers (37%) than mid-range shots (36%) last season. Obviously, that’s way off target considering the extra value of 3-pointers over 2-pointers.
LaVine’s more-general criticisms are also off base. Stars haven’t stopped creating mid-range shots for themselves. The reduction in mid-range jumpers has largely come from a decline in catch-and-shoots in that area. Off-ball players now more frequently stand beyond the arc, where they create more space and better-positioned to take more-efficient shots.
Carmelo Anthony isn’t out of the NBA because his style has no place in the game. He’s out of the NBA, because he’s 35 and looks washed up. If he could still score like he did in his prime, he’d have a major role.
LaVine scores that way, and that’s why he’s Chicago’s go-to player. If he improved his shot selection, he’d be even better.