The conversation surrounding analytics in the NBA (and any sport, really) is very polarizing, with two sides often shouting past each other and missing the nuance required when it comes to discussing it. Analytics are something brought up a lot when it comes to the Bulls these days, because they have a star player in DeMar DeRozan who seemingly bucks analytics by doing the majority of his work in the mid-range area (most mid-range attempts in the NBA). Bill Wennington has made it a point on basically every recent TV broadcast to bring it up.
I like Wennington, but there does not have to be some referendum on analytics every single game when talking about DeRozan, especially when some of the criticism is off-base. It’s true that analytics have resulted in more 3-pointers and fewer mid-range shots overall in the NBA, with defenses generally being more comfortable allowing mid-range shots. Because of this, a lot of people associate analytics with the notion that 3-pointers are good and mid-range shots are bad for offenses.
But you know what analytics actually say about DeMar DeRozan? That a DeMar DeRozan mid-range shot is a good shot because he’s just so damn proficient at them, and it’s not like teams are just letting him fire away wide-open looks from there.
After shooting 9-of-15 on mid-range 2s in another masterful performance in a win over the Hawks, DeRozan is 117-of-239 on those shots this season. He’s also 64-of-125 on non-restricted area 2-pointers in the paint. That means he’s basically just under 50% on non-RA 2s:
When looking at half-court offense, per Cleaning The Glass, league average is 93.4 points per 100 plays. The Bulls are at 96.7 points per 100 plays, which is seventh in the NBA. Doing the simple math, DeRozan is at 0.98 points per shot from mid-range and at nearly a point per shot on non-RA 2s. Then there are the times he gets to the foul line when he’s trying mid-range attempts. He’s still extremely good at baiting defenders in that area, and the new rules haven’t affected him at all.
Furthermore, DeRozan is shooting 50.7% on 10.5 2-pointers per game against tight defense (2-4 feet closest defender), per NBA.com. He’s at 56.1% on 5.0 open attempts per game (4-6 feet). His success rate is 51.9% against tight defense on 2-pointers 10 greater than 10 feet, and he’s taking 6.7 of those per game. He’s at 53.3% on 4.3 open shots of this type per game. The dude just hits a variety of very difficult shots because he’s able to get to his spots and is comfortable taking them against any kind of defense. And all the analytics say these are good shots to take based on how he’s shooting.
Perhaps DeRozan cools down a bit at some point, but at this point it’s hard to see him dropping off too much. He has mastered his craft on these shots, though it’s also nice to see him hitting 36.5% from 3 on a couple attempts per game. Mixing in a few triples when the time calls for it along with that mid-range diet is a good thing. All of this is how you get a true shooting percentage near 60% on high usage, which is awesome.
When it comes down to it, it’s annoying to hear the same tired analytics discussion come up when discussing DeRozan. The bottom line has always been that elite bucket-getters are absolutely fine taking mid-range shots (Zach LaVine is similar), which is especially important come playoff time, but guys who can’t hit those kinds of shots on a regular basis should look to take more 3s instead of long 2s. I hope we can get to a point where that kind of nuance is more regularly discussed instead of trotting out the normal talking points against analytics.
And now, here’s some DDR and Kevin Durant mid-range mastery: