They say one of the lost arts in the game of basketball is the mid-range jumpshot. I’m not sure who “they” are, but they’re correct. Alot seems to happen right at the basket or behind the 3-point line. But there have always been two guys in recent NBA lure that stick out in my mind as having great mid-range games in their respective prime: Sam Cassell and Mike Bibby.
Sam Cassell never had an ounce of athleticism running through his veins, but he always made the best of his abilities regardless, and had a great career. “Sam I am” enjoyed 15 hard-fought NBA seasons, while playing for eight teams (some teams more than once) before retiring in 2008. What made his so successful was his ability to shoot the basketball free-throw line extended. I used to love the way he would walk the ball up court, lulling his defender to sleep, before creating the tiniest bit of separation, enabling him to get his shot off.
His ability to do that was instrumental in helping the Houston Rockets capture two NBA Championship in the mid-90s, Sam’s first two years in the league. After three years in Houston, he was dealt and that’s when his jouneyman career began. But even though he bounced around, he proved to be very valuable everywhere he went. He had that old-man game and played like a veteran from day one. And of course, he had great big game shot-making ability. I’ll always remember Sam for being a great medium range shooter.
Then there’s Mike Bibby. Forget about Bibby on the Heat. Or even the Wizards and Hawks for that matter. Think back to Bibby during his Sacramento days, early in the 2000s. After being dealt to the Kings from the Grizzlies, Bibby became a star. He, Webber and Vlade Divac led the Kings deep into the playoffs many years while he ran the offense.
Similar to Cassell, Bibby was never super athletic, but that didn’t matter since he was a National Champion in college at Arizona and ended up being the second overall selection in the 1998 draft. But in Sacramento, Bibby was great at hitting the timely mid-range J when it mattered most. He was never the quickest guy, but like Cassell, he used savvy moves to get open. I remember the Kings losing the 7th game of a playoff series against the Lakers because the only person on the Kings who decided to show up was Bibby. Webber looked scared, so Bibby took over. He knocked down countless mid-range Js, but it ended up not being enough. Throughout his time in Sacramento, that’s where he earned his paycheck. But as the years wore on and the Kings got worse, he was dealt to Atlanta and he wasn’t front and center anymore.
Again, these are the two guys that I think had two of the best mid-range jumpshots in recent NBA memory. In having countless conversations with NBA heads over the years, many tend to agree, although you can others to the list. Who do you think had the better mid-range J?
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