I got into an interesting little argument about the fundamentals of basketball after a list came out of the top 10 fundamentally challenged players in the NBA. Although, I may have exaggerated on certain things there is the truth that the mid-range game of players is pretty much gone.
There's a quote by Pete Newell who arguably was the greatest contributor to basketball that applies to today's NBA players and that quote is "Players today have increased physical skills, but basketball skills have diminished."
Look at Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant for example they all use their physical abilities to their advantage. Yet, Wade and Bryant have their athleticism and James has his strength as well as athleticism.
Each one uses those physical traits to get to the rim and to get to the line. That's where a majority of their points are scored. There will always be a game in the season where it seems like they can hit any shot they take.
Yet, in the early 90's there were still some tremendous shooters in the league that could hit that medium range jumper with ease as well as the three. Michael Jordan (not from three though), Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, Glen Rice before he became a role player, and Mark Price.
In today's game there's really very few players in the league that jump out you that can consistently hit those medium range jumpers. A few names come to mind like Brandon Roy, Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, and Richard Hamilton.
Part of the reason why the mid-range jumper is all but gone is because that the most exciting part of the game is seeing a dunk or an acrobatic layup. So, as the athletes in the NBA are more about attacking the rim then they are about pulling up from 15 feet and making a jumper.
When fans talk about Lebron James it's about his ability to get to the rim by using his strength there's no one like him in the league that can match is strength as well as the quickness he possesses at 6'8".
Wade is more of a threat to drive to the basket and take a hard hit trying to get a three point play opportunity.
Bryant is a more interesting case because he doesn't attack the rim as much as he used to. Bryant is adept at getting defenders up in the air and in the process of the defender landing that's when Bryant goes up for the shot creating the contact and getting himself to the free throw line.
It's not to say that James, Wade, and Bryant can't make a mid range jumper it just means that it's not how they are going to score a majority of their points.
Brandon Roy is adept and hitting jumpers and not trying to do too much with the ball. He will occasionally get to the rim to keep defenders honest.
Monta Ellis before his injury was just as adept at getting to the rim than taking a 18 foot jumper because Ellis worked and worked on that jumper and all but ignored taking threes. In 2007-2008 he shot a staggering 53.1 percent from the field.
Anthony Morrow was an undrafted rookie who made a name for himself by not only leading the league in three point shooting, but also by scoring the most points in a game by an undrafted player at 37 points.
Morrow has a sweet jumper and he hits for a high percentage from three as mentioned before, from inside the arc, and from the free throw line. He's got the whole package. Morrow has other skills he needs before he become a deadly scorer.
Dirk Nowitzki is a seven footer who is not your prototypical big man. He would much rather take an 18 footer than go down in the post.
Steve Nash is a dead eye shooter. He can make a mid-range jumper with ease. Nash does shoot for a high percentage, but since he's a point guard he doesn't shoot as often.
Then there's Ray Allen who's got one of the prettiest strokes the game has ever seen which makes him a deadly three point shooter as well as deadly from mid-range and fouling him is out of the question because he is one of the best free throw shooters as well.
Tim Duncan is an interesting choice, but he has his patented off the backboard jumper, which allows him not to be always in the post and it keeps defenses honest.
Richard Hamilton is probably the best in the NBA right now in terms of mid range game. He comes off screens and hits the 15-18 foot jumpers with ease and he's a solid free throw shooter as well.
For every solid shooter there seems to be a player like Josh Howard, JR Smith, Antoine Walker, Ron Artest, Rajon Rondo, etc....They are players who take shot after shot but don't have any business trying to shoot from more than 15 feet away.