Durant sends message about shot selection to Bulls' LaVine
Zach LaVine was given the green light Tuesday to shoot midrange jumpers.
The permission came from Kevin Durant's verified Twitter account, so it may not hold water with the Bulls' coaching staff.
The action began when Rachel Nichols from ESPN's daily NBA show "The Jump" tweeted the show's discussion of a story that ran in the Sun-Times over the weekend. LaVine lamented the Bulls' emphasis on 3-point shots and drives to the basket, mentioned he studied Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant growing up, and said, "I think the midrange is a lost art now because everyone is moving toward the three and the analytics."
Durant replied to Nichols' tweet with the line, "Shoot em Zach."
The injured Brooklyn Nets star had more thoughts on the subject. Here are excerpts from ensuing Durant tweets, edited to remove some abbreviations:
"Why pass up a wide-open look to shoot a contested shot? … If it (the midrange shot) wasn't forbidden then players would work on it and they would develop that shot. … You don't know how good you can be at them if you just ignore it altogether.
"It's not about me. I see dudes passing up open shots in the midrange, like wide open, to force passes to the 3-point line or to force up bad finishes at the rim. … I just want to start every game trying to make my first three shots, wherever they may be."
A couple of common arguments in favor of the 3-point shot is it's more productive over the long haul to shoot 35 percent from 3 than 50 percent from 2. The Bulls ranked 27th in the league in 3-point attempts per game last season.
In LaVine's case specifically, he hasn't been great at midrange shots. According to basketball-reference.com, he shot 30.3 percent from 10-16 feet last season, 38.2 percent from 16-22 feet and 37.4 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen clarified his position on taking the midrange shot after Monday's practice at the Advocate Center. The Bulls did not practice Tuesday because of a team function.
"Well, we don't want to take contested twos mid-(shot) clock," Boylen said. "I'd like to not take early-clock, non-rim twos. I'd like not to. If they happen, they happen. Late-clock, we have to get the best possible look we can get. That might be a contested two. We might have to do it.
"But we believe in the math and we coach to the math, we organize our practices to the math, but we understand there's moments when you have to just play. A free-throw-line jumper at 14 (seconds) contested is not what we want. That's not really a new thing. Twenty years ago when I was in the league, that's not what we wanted.
"If we have a guy that's elite at making twos -- I've coached elite two guys -- if we have one of those or if we see a guy developing that, then we will adjust accordingly. But we're going to play the way I want to play."
In other words, Boylen would let Jordan shoot 2-point shots. The Bulls legend made a living late in his career on midrange turnaround jumpers.
"I probably would have," Boylen said. "I look at Tony Parker, terrific midrange two guy. We brought up Kevin Garnett, very good midrange two, shot over the defense, very good. We want to get middle, we want to get that ball on the rim. If not, we want to make good deep-drive decisions with spacing and take open shots."