From the Boston Celtics to New York Knicks, ranking every team’s shooting and why it matters


You hear it all the time: “It’s a make or miss league” … “You can never have too much shooting” … “If elite Player X adds a 3-pointer, it’s over.”

It is an objective fact that NBA offenses continue to increase their share of 3-point attempts. Last year, every team made at least 10 3s per game for the first time in NBA history.

This season, teams average 34.1 3-point attempts per game, making an average of 12.1 (648 NBA games through Nov. 30). Both are slight drops from last season, when the league averaged a record-high 35.2 3s attempted per game. The 3-point league average of 35.5 percent is only slightly higher than last year and would rank 15th in NBA history… and is only slightly higher than the league 3-point percentage in 2002, when teams averaged only 14.7 attempts per game.

While the midrange shot’s value has been questioned, it is certainly better to have that weapon than to not have it. Teams have made an average of 4.4 midrange field goals per game (non-paint 2s) through Nov. 30, shooting them at 41.4 percent.

With rosters relatively locked in over the first 1.5 months of the season, there is a significant enough sample size to see what teams look like from a shooting perspective. I took the average of the following shooting categories through Nov. 30 to rank all 30 teams:

  • midrange field goals made per game (non-paint 2s)
  • midrange field goal percentage
  • 3s made per game
  • 3-point percentage

Which teams measure up best when evaluating their shooting? And what does each team’s shooting tell one about a team’s success (or lack of success) overall? Which teams measure up best when evaluating their shooting? And what does each team’s shooting tell about their success (or lack of success) overall? How much is it a make or miss league? Let’s dive in to the rankings.

Midrange FG: 20th
Midrange FG percentage: Second
3s: First
3-point percentage: First

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The best team in the NBA to start the season also happens to be the best shooting team in the NBA. No team makes more 3s than the Celtics, and no team has been more accurate. But even though the Celtics don’t live in the midrange as much, they have been elite on the 2-point jump shots as well. In the case of the Celtics, their shooting prowess has been the top factor for their hot start.

Midrange FG: Third
Midrange FG percentage: First
3s: 13th
3-point percentage: Eighth

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: Brooklyn’s expectations are high because the shooting ability is off the charts. With Kevin Durant leading the way, the Nets have been the most accurate midrange shooting team in the league. But it’s not just Durant. Kyrie Irving is an even more accurate midrange shooter than Durant. Seth Curry also mixes in plenty of midrange shots to go with his accurate 3-point shooting. The Nets have been an average team to start the season overall, though, due in large part to their rebounding issues.

Midrange FG: 11th
Midrange FG percentage: 10th
3s: Second
3-point percentage: Sixth

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: It’s not a surprise that the defending champs would rank high in shooting. The Warriors are actually on pace to smash their single-season record for 3s made, in large part due to Andrew Wiggins breaking out as the team’s most accurate shooter above the break despite the presence of legendary shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. What has been surprising is that Golden State has been an average team to start the season despite the shooting being as good as it has ever been. The Warriors have won championships behind strong defensive play, and that has not been up to standards for the most part.

Midrange FG: Fourth
Midrange FG percentage: Ninth
3s: 10th
3-point percentage: Seventh

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: It doesn’t matter where the Suns shoot from — and they shoot plenty of jump shots as a team — this team has been accurate. Devin Booker has shot the 3 better this season, but he also lives in the midrange, making nearly half of his non-paint 2s. Phoenix has been able to remain among the top teams in the NBA in part because of a rotation of shooters having career years (Torrey Craig, Damion Lee, Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet).

Midrange FG: Seventh
Midrange FG percentage: 14th
3s: Ninth
3-point percentage: Second

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The Nuggets, like the Suns, are a heavy jump-shooting team. While Denver isn’t as accurate in the midrange, the return of Jamal Murray helps there. Where the Nuggets are special as a shooting team is their 3-point accuracy, as only the Celtics have been more efficient. Newcomer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is off to a remarkable start, making nearly half of his 3s, while fellow newcomer Bruce Brown has also been outstanding above the break from 3. Denver’s shooters has helped Nikola Jokić to a career-high assists mark to start the season.

Midrange FG: 10th
Midrange FG percentage: Fourth
3s: 17th
3-point percentage: 10th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The 76ers are a top-10 shooting team because their stars are great in the midrange while they have enough bench players such as newcomer De’Anthony Melton and reserve forward Georges Niang shooting the 3 well. Joel Embiid is off to a great start in the midrange, making more than half of his non-paint 2s at a high volume. The 76ers are off to an uneven start overall with James Harden and Tyrese Maxey missing significant time, but it helps to have Embiid surrounded by enough decent shooting.

7. Utah Jazz| Average rank: 10.25

Midrange FG: 26th
Midrange FG percentage: Third
3s: Third
3-point percentage: Ninth

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Jazz are in the top-10 due to their 3-point volume and general accuracy. They have a surplus of players shooting the 3 well, led by small forward Lauri Markkanen in what has been a breakout season for him. Malik Beasley has come off the bench as a weapon, and Kelly Olynyk starts with Markkanen, allowing the Jazz to space the floor in all of their lineups. Utah ignores the midrange for the most part, but it has been quite accurate from there as well. The Jazz are not as good a team overall as they are a shooting team, as their defense has been exposed as the season has progressed.

Midrange FG: First
Midrange FG percentage: Fifth
3s: 28th
3-point percentage: 15th

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: The Bulls are this high because of one player: DeMar DeRozan. His ability to outproduce entire teams in the midrange has to be respected. It is even more impressive because the Bulls are one of the lowest volume 3-point teams in the NBA, with LaVine being the only player who takes a significant volume of above-the-break 3s while making them at a respectable level. The Bulls do have two bigs who can shoot the 3 in Patrick Williams and Nikola Vučević; Williams should attempt more, while Vučević is far more effective in the corners. The Bulls should be a better team, but they don’t complement their star wings well with offensive rebounds or free-throw attempts despite the lack of 3s, and they don’t close games well either.

9. LA Clippers| Average rank: 12.25

Midrange FG: Fifth
Midrange FG percentage: 11th
3s: 20th
3-point percentage: 13th

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The Clippers are definitely a team that comes and goes with their shooting. The Clippers are supposed to have a roster with strong 3-point shooting, but it is the midrange that props their ranking up. Kawhi Leonard is a great midrange shooter, but he hasn’t played enough to start the season. Paul George has, and he has been one of the best shooters in the midrange in the league. Marcus Morris Sr. is the rare role player who hits the 3 at a high rate and gets a significant amount of work in the midrange as well, though his corner 3 has been off to start the year. The Clippers should be better here and overall as the season goes on and Leonard plays more games.

Midrange FG: 9th
Midrange FG percentage: 18th
3s: Seventh
3-point percentage: 17th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Bucks take and make a lot of jump shots, which allows them to sneak into the last spot of the top 10. But they could use Khris Middleton back because Milwaukee’s shooting accuracy has been below average. They do have plenty of size shooting well: Brook Lopez is shooting well above the break, Bobby Portis is hitting better than 40 percent of his midrange looks and Jordan Nwora is playing up front off the bench. Giannis Antetokounmpo makes plenty of midrange shots, but Middleton’s return gives Antetokounmpo a chance to cede some of those looks. In the meantime, the Bucks are near the top of the league due to an elite defense.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports)

Midrange FG: 24th
Midrange FG percentage: 12th
3s: Fifth
3-point percentage: 11th

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The Kings are another team that slants their jump-shot volume heavily towards 3s, though they are an above-average shooting team from wherever they shoot. A big reason for their shooting success to start the year has been De’Aaron Fox’s efficiency from either side of the 3-point line, along with the addition of sharpshooter Kevin Huerter. Hot shooting isn’t the only reason the Kings have exceeded expectations to start the year, as they have multiple players who get to the free-throw line at a high rate as well.

Midrange FG: 12th
Midrange FG percentage: 17th
3s: 19th
3-point percentage: Fifth

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Pelicans aren’t thought of as a team with shooters, but they have been quite accurate to begin the season. They’re more of a midrange team with Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum leading the way. The Pelicans should certainly consider more 3s due to the accuracy of not just Ingram and McCollum but also reserves such as Trey Murphy III and Devonte’ Graham. New Orleans has been better than its shooting overall as one of the most well-rounded teams in the league.

Midrange FG: 19th
Midrange FG percentage: 22nd
3s: 14th
3-point percentage: Fourth

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Trail Blazers are above-average shooting team due to their 3-point accuracy. Damian Lillard is off to a slow, yet voluminous start to the season above the break. But Lillard’s injury absence allowed Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant to flourish. Grant isn’t great in the midrange, but he is off to a powerful start from 3, while Simons has been solid from everywhere in an increased role. There aren’t really enough shots for anyone else to make a mark in Portland.

Midrange FG: 22nd
Midrange FG percentage: 23rd
3s: 12th
3-point percentage: Third

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: The Cavaliers are good from 3 and bad in the midrange, a trade-off most teams will take, though it can make for predictable offense. Star guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell are really good shooting from anywhere, but Caris LeVert is struggling mightily in the midrange. Kevin Love adds shooting from the frontcourt that the Cavaliers don’t get from Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Cleveland is better than its shooting overall due to one of the best defenses in the league.

Midrange FG: 25th
Midrange FG percentage: 13th
3s: Sixth
3-point percentage: 19th

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The Mavericks are much more likely to shoot 3s than midrange shots, but they have been a below-average accuracy team from 3 to start the season. Luka Dončić is the only player who regularly shoots from midrange, and he is off to a strong start there. But Dončić rarely shoots corner 3s, and his above-the-break 3, while voluminous, is unimpressive overall. Dinwiddie is similarly ordinary from above the break, but his corner 3 has been fantastic. Christian Wood gives Dallas a different look up front with his shooting, but the Mavericks have gotten subpar starts from Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Reggie Bullock.

Midrange FG: 15th
Midrange FG percentage: Eighth
3s: 18th
3-point percentage: 23rd

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Thunder are right in the middle of these rankings in large part to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, an average low-volume 3-point shooter who has been outstanding in the midrange. Oklahoma City has a lack of willing shooters, but it needs to find more shots for Isaiah Joe off the bench. For as much as the Thunder drive, they struggle to get to the free-throw line, which has been a primary reason the offense hasn’t taken off around Gilgeous-Alexander.

Midrange FG: Sixth
Midrange FG percentage: 15th
3s: 24th
3-point percentage: 20th

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The Wizards are much more likely to stay in the midrange than shoot 3s, but they’re a decidedly average-at-best shooting team from wherever they shoot. Bradley Beal is one of the best midrange shooters in the league, but the Wizards don’t get many corner 3s. Washington’s starting bigs, Kristaps Porziņģis and Kyle Kuzma, take plenty of 3s. Porziņģis has been more accurate, while Kuzma has struggled above the break. The only shooter the team has off the bench is Corey Kispert, who has had to start with Beal injured.

Kristaps Porziņģis (Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports)

Midrange FG: Second
Midrange FG percentage: Seventh
3s: 30th
3-point percentage: 27th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Hawks are great in the midrange but awful from 3. They have been better than their shooting ranking overall due to a defense that forces many more turnovers than last year. Pretty much, theis is what you’d expect from a team that changed Trae Young’s backcourt mate from Kevin Huerter to Dejounte Murray. It hasn’t helped Atlanta’s shooting ranking that Young’s above-the-break 3-pointer has been bad, though Young’s shot isn’t completely broken; both he and Murray have been solid in the midrange, along with De’Andre Hunter.

Midrange FG: 27th
Midrange FG percentage: 21st
3s: Fourth
3-point percentage: 14th

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: The Pacers take a lot of 3s and have one of the worst midrange presences in the league. Tyrese Haliburton has been a solid 3-point shooter. Buddy Hield has been great in the corners, but subpar above the break, which is where he takes most of his 3s. Indiana has variety in its shooters, with Myles Turner having a strong season above the break and lottery rookie Bennedict Mathurin clearing 40 percent from everywhere off the bench.

Midrange FG: 13th
Midrange FG percentage: Sixth
3s: 21st
3-point percentage: 26th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The midrange has helped the Timberwolves, but they have been bad from 3 to start the season. Karl-Anthony Towns’ injury subtracts one of Minnesota’s best shooters, though he hasn’t had the best start from 3. D’Angelo Russell has been solid in the midrange, but his 3-pointer has not been there to start the season. Simply put, this isn’t the Minnesota team from last year that took a large number of 3s despite not being terribly accurate. The Rudy Gobert trade shifted the team to a more interior focus, and even when Gobert isn’t on the floor, the Timberwolves don’t have the same personnel as last year that took all of those 3s at a high rate.

Midrange FG: 16th
Midrange FG percentage: 19th
3s: 16th
3-point percentage: 18th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: Nothing jumps out about San Antonio’s shooters. Devin Vassell has emerged as a legitimate threat in the midrange to complement his great shooting from 3. Doug McDermott is coming off the bench to provide shooting from the wing. The Spurs are one of the worst teams in the league due to the fact that they have the NBA’s worst defense, so their shooting profile is actually a step above that.

Midrange FG: Eighth
Midrange FG percentage: 16th
3s: 25th
3-point percentage: 24th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Pistons are in a similar position as the Spurs. This is a bad shooting team, but one that is failed more by its awful defense than its inaccuracy. Detroit is actually a decent midrange shooting team, though it is missing Cade Cunningham’s volume. Bojan Bogdanović isn’t just a 3-point shooter, as he is Detroit’s best chance at jump shots inside of the arc with Cunningham out. Alec Burks’ return gives the Pistons a good 3-point shooter, but one who struggles in the midrange. Isaiah Stewart is a big who isn’t particularly good above the break, but has been really good in the corners; Detroit needs to do a better job of getting Stewart more opportunities from there.

Midrange FG: 29th
Midrange FG percentage: 28th
3s: 11th
3-point percentage: 12th

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: The Grizzlies are perhaps the biggest antithesis to the make-or-miss league theorem. Memphis is one of the worst midrange shooting teams in the NBA with the player who takes the most (Dillon Brooks) starting the season under 30 percent from there. While the Grizzlies are an improved 3-point shooting team, they are missing Desmond Bane in a big way. Jaren Jackson Jr.’s return gives the Grizzlies a big who can hit from above the break, though Jackson offers nothing in the corners. Ja Morant’s team isn’t beating you with jump shots. The Grizzlies beat you because they’re the best rebounding team in the NBA, winning possession battles regularly while dominating the interior.

24. Miami Heat| Average rank: 20.25

Midrange FG: 21st
Midrange FG percentage: 25th
3s: 14th
3-point percentage: 21st

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: Miami is arguably the most disappointing shooting team in the league considering past success and available personnel. Tyler Herro has taken more midrange shots than any other player on the team, including Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but Herro has been in the low 30s. Butler and Adebayo rarely shoot 3s, while all of Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson have been under 34 percent above the break to start the season. The Heat are great at forcing turnovers and defending without fouling, but the subpar shooting around the team’s playmakers has been a factor in Miami’s slow start, especially considering its lack of size and rebounding.

Midrange FG: 14th
Midrange FG percentage: 20th
3s: 26th
3-point percentage: 22nd

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Magic are in the same class as the Spurs and Pistons. The complete lack of healthy guards plays a role in the drag on shooting, though Orlando’s guards are not exactly the strongest shooters either. Top draft pick Paolo Banchero has taken a lot of jump shots, but he has struggled in the midrange while starting the season making only about a quarter of his 3s above the arc. Banchero is one of several bigs who at least tries to shoot 3s, along with Wendell Carter Jr., Chuma Okeke and Mo Bamba. This team is so short-handed that Bol Bol has been playing the wing, but he has been great on the few 3s he does take.

Paola Banchero (Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA TODAY Sports)

Midrange FG: 30th
Midrange FG percentage: 30th
3s: Eighth
3-point percentage: 16th

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The Rockets take a healthy amount of 3s, but they’re only average at shooting them. The organization known most for eschewing the midrange shot not only takes the fewest of them, but also is the least accurate as well. Lottery rookie Jabari Smith Jr. is the Rockets shooting big. There are no 40 percent 3-point shooters on the roster.

Midrange FG: 17th
Midrange FG percentage: 29th
3s: 23rd
3-point percentage: 25th

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: The Raptors are a decent team, but the shooting is poor from everywhere. Only the Rockets are less accurate at making midrange shots, but the Raptors take significantly more of those shots to undesirable results. Pascal Siakam makes 40 percent of his midrange attempts, but Gary Trent Jr., the team’s other primary midrange threat, is under 40 percent. Scottie Barnes is under 30 percent in the midrange. Trent Jr. has also gotten off to a slow start from 3, while the one player shooting north of 40 percent from 3 rarely stays in the rotation (Malachi Flynn). No team forces more turnovers than the Raptors, so they’re an outlier as a bottom-five shooting team. They win possession battles to avoid the make-or-miss league theorem. But they don’t have a dynamic paint presence like the other possession champs, Ja Morant’s Grizzlies.

Midrange FG: 18th
Midrange FG percentage: 24th
3s: 27th
3-point percentage: 29th

Make or miss league? Agree

Analysis: The absence of LaMelo Ball has put the Hornets into the depths of the NBA, especially offensively. Gordon Hayward hasn’t been available much this season either, and Terry Rozier is one of the worst midrange volume shooters in the league to go with his shooting slump from 3 to start the season. None of Charlotte’s shooters are hitting; Kelly Oubre Jr. is below 30 percent from above the break, and while P.J. Washington is a willing shooter as a big, his accuracy hasn’t quite been there.

Midrange FG: 23rd
Midrange FG percentage: 26th
3s: 29th
3-point percentage: 28th

Make or miss league? Neutral

Analysis: The Lakers have actually improved their shooting since their 2-10 start, but this is still a team built around Anthony Davis and LeBron James with an absolute dearth of shooting ability, especially from 3. Davis and James have been under 40 percent in the midrange to go with their subpar 3-point shooting, so unlike other teams with stars, L.A. doesn’t even have a high shooting floor due to its best players being adequate at best outside of the paint. Lonnie Walker IV has helped above the break, but the Lakers are the worst shooting team in the Western Conference. Davis’ and James’ ability to get to the free-throw line at a high rate while also defending without fouling have at least kept the Lakers out of the cellar overall.

Midrange FG: 28th
Midrange FG percentage: 27th
3s: 22nd
3-point percentage: 30th

Make or miss league? Disagree

Analysis: The Knicks are the NBA’s worst shooting team to start the season. New York’s presence in the midrange has been comparable to the Rockets. That is, there is no presence in the midrange. That has been especially disappointing for Jalen Brunson, the team’s top offseason acquisition, who has also shot below 30 percent above the break from 3. Julius Randle has started to come around with his shooting, but RJ Barrett was well under 30 percent from 3 to start the season. Evan Fournier, who set the franchise record last year for 3s in a season, lost his rotation spot. Obi Toppin is the team’s best shooting big, but he is underused when healthy, which he isn’t now. And Immanuel Quickley, the team’s top bench scorer, has struggled to shoot efficiently as well. Fortunately for New York, shooting isn’t everything, as it grabs enough offensive rebounds and defends well enough to stay afloat in the East.

(Top photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)


Related posts

Leave a Comment