When Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green was still in high school, he witnessed the league evolve into a 3-point shooting fiasco. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, and James Harden (just to name a few) were the prime suspects of this revolution.
Understandably, Green was influenced by this development. He integrated a reliable 3-point shooting stroke in his arsenal. But now, past the midway mark of his rookie season, Green is learning that he needs to improve other aspects of his game — particularly the mid-range jump shot.
“I need to start getting more comfortable (with mid-range). I’m working on that right now, still trying to get it down. The Clippers played me the whole time trying to get me to that in-between game.”
“I got to know when to take those shots,” he added. “I don’t really take a lot of mid-range shots. Once I get the in-between game, I think it will take my game to a whole other level,” Green said.
This realization came in during their duel with the LA Clippers on Tuesday. The Tyronn Lue-coached squad forced Green out of the paint and all the way to the 3-point line. While Green is comfortable from that distance, things didn’t work well for him that night. He shot just 4-of-12 or 33.3 percent in the first three quarters.
The stubborn approach would be to keep on shooting. After all, Green has been working hard to perfect his stroke. However, Green and the coaching staff decided to dial things back. Instead of jacking up shots from Curry-distance, they told the 20-year-old to pull up from mid-range instead.
The little tweak worked. Green finished the fourth quarter with 12 points on 5-of-9 or 55.6 percent. All in all, the second overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft finished the game with 20 points on 42.9 percent shooting.
This could serve as a precedent not just for young players like Green but for the rest of the league. It all makes sense to integrate the 3-point shot in your playbook. But the reality is, mastering that shot takes a lot of time. Besides, it’s not every day that a Stephen Curry comes along.
As such, the proper approach would be to go back to the fundamentals. It also helps to have a good grasp of basketball history. Let’s not forget that the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant assaulted defenses with the midrange. Apart from the thousands of points scored, they also snagged the best prize of them all: the NBA Championships.