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The explosion of the three-point shot in the last two decades has come at the expense of the midrange jumper, which analytics has shown to be an inefficient shot. The Rockets were at the forefront of this "Moneyball" movement with Daryl Morey and James Harden.

But that won't be the case with this Phoenix Suns superteam. It's not exactly clear how their big four of Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will fit when Durant makes his Suns debut on Wednesday in Charlotte. One thing that is clear though, they will be zigging while the rest of the NBA is zagging. They will be the exception to the rule. Their midrange game should be lightyears ahead of the rest of the league.

The Suns have been one of the most prolific midrange shooting teams in the NBA since Paul joined forces with Booker three years ago. Over that span, the Suns have ranked top five in midrange makes in each season because Paul is a midrange maestro off pick-and-rolls and Booker can create off the dribble in that area with the best of them.

Mix in Kevin Durant, and the Suns are officially the monsters of the midrange. He is one of the most lethal shooters in league history, and how he operates from the midrange is no exception -- especially this season. Durant is shooting 57.1 percent on midrange attempts in 2022-23. There have been roughly 1,700 instances of a player taking 250+ midrange shots in a season in the last 25 seasons. Durant's rate this season is the highest on the list, and he actually has the top three marks. His new teammate, Paul, has the fourth-best percentage and accounts for four of the top 19, including his first two seasons in Phoenix.

Highest midrange percentage in a season last 25 seasons (Min. 250 FGA)

Kevin Durant (2022-23)


Kevin Durant (2021-22)


Kevin Durant (2018-19)


Chris Paul (2019-20)


His addition gives Phoenix a monopoly on the midrange. Since CP3 joined the Suns, Durant, Booker and Paul all rank in the top six in midrange shots made. 

Most midrange shots made in last three seasons

DeMar DeRozan


Devin Booker


Kevin Durant


Brandon Ingram


Joel Embiid


Chris Paul


Just this season alone this trio is combining to make 8.6 midrange shots per game. For comparison's sake, the most midrange shots made per game by a single team this season is 8.0 by the Bulls. And prior to the Durant trade, the Nets (7.3) and Suns (6.1) both ranked top four in that category this season. Now they are joining forces, in a way.

But what does it mean? After all, the midrange shot has been steadily dying for a reason. Twenty years ago a long two made up 30% of the league's shots per Cleaning the Glass. That's down to nine percent in today's NBA. I'm from the school of thought that making midrange shots can actually be a good thing. First off, the midrange shot is a thing of beauty. The phrase "good defense, better offense" is usually reserved for a filthy fadeaway jumper made with a defender draped on the shooter. When you think of someone shouting "Kobe!" during a game of pick-up basketball, it's usually attached to a silky smooth midrange J. Let's get practical though. The ability to hit long twos is more valuable in two critical situations -- crunch time and the playoffs.

There's a reason the Suns were an NBA-best 33-9 in clutch time (final five minutes, score within five points) last season and Booker and Paul had the best two field-goal percentages in the entire NBA in those situations (min. 40 FGA). Teams clamp down on defense in the clutch and midrange shots are more likely to be the best available look, which is where Booker and CP3 thrive. 

And, of course, defense is played with a different intensity in the playoffs. This is why we see shots at the rim go way down and all other two-point attempts go up in the postseason. Just look at the numbers between the regular season and playoffs last year provided by Cleaning the Glass. 

NBA shot attempts last season

Regular Season





Other 2-pt FG



3-pt FG



When there's suffocating defense at the end of the shot clock in the crunch, players who can create and make tough midrange shots are worth their weight in gold. Splash Brothers aside, these players have been a consistent presence among championship teams for decades from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. It's held true even as recently as the 2021 Finals when Booker, Paul and Khris Middleton all took at least one-third of their shots from midrange. Middleton stole the show with the Bucks down 2-1 in Game 4, scoring 40 points and making a game-tying and go-ahead midrange shot late in the fourth quarter of a narrow win.

Notable midrange shooting in NBA Finals


FG Pct

2021 Devin Booker



2021 Khris Middleton



2021 Chris Paul



2019 Kawhi Leonard



2018 Kevin Durant



2017 Kevin Durant



2016 Kyrie Irving



2013 LeBron James



2011 Dirk Nowitzki



2010 Kobe Bryant



2009 Kobe Bryant



2006 Dwyane Wade



1998 Michael Jordan



1997 Michael Jordan



Yes, midrange can still be a winning formula. Durant's 2018 Warriors won the title while leading the NBA in long twos made (9.5 per game). The aforementioned 2020-21 Suns made the Finals after leading the NBA in midrange field goal percentage (47.4) during the regular season.

Monsters of the midrange would be a cool moniker in Phoenix, but that's obviously not all the Suns will be able to do. Durant is having one of the most efficient scoring seasons in NBA history. His 2022-23 season stands as the only one in NBA history where a player is scoring 25 points per game with 55 percent shooting from the field and 90 percent from the line. He and Booker can score from all over the court. At the rim. Midrange. Three pointers. According to Cleaning The Glass, Durant is a plus shooter (in terms of FG pct) in all three areas this season, while all three teammates are league average or better from three. The Suns should have the best of both worlds between making long twos and threes. They rank 12th in three-pointers made this season and eighth in three-point field goal percentage, and that's before Durant has suited up for them.

The Suns superstar trio is a threat all over the court (Cleaning the Glass)

The only snag Phoenix's offense may hit (besides depth) could come from a usually reliable source, Paul. He's relying on midrange a lot less this year and shooting it significantly worse than his previous two seasons with the Suns. It's been a down year overall. His effective field goal percentage (49.8) is its worst in 16 years (46.6 in 2006-07) and he's posting career-lows in usage rate (19.6%) and PER (17.4). 

Chris Paul midrange Suns' career

Pct of Attempts

FG Pct










He is still dishing it at elite levels though, which should be more than enough when you can set up Booker and Durant. Paul ranks seventh in assist percentage (39%) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.3) this season, among players to average 30 minutes per game.

All-in-all, I'm intrigued to watch the new-look Suns especially since they will turn back the clock and may be one of the last great midrange teams. The frustrated look of helpless defenders will be priceless come playoff time when Durant, Paul and Booker pick apart opponents with their midrange prowess.