The Roar
The Roar


How the mid-range Mafia could win in a three-point League

Kevin Durant (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
19th February, 2023

The trade deadline came and went. The veneer still shines on teams with their new toys, like the amassed collection of a ten-year-old one week after Christmas. Yet, there’s always that one toy that shines brighter than the rest. This year’s toy? Kevin Durant’s return to the Western Conference.

According to the 34-year-old, we are a couple weeks out from seeing this all-time great play for his fifth (if you include the Seattle Supersonics) franchise. Now that the Phoenix Suns are once again stacked, like their great teams of the past, what can we expect from this new mid-range Mafia?

In a league where there are few absolute truths, KD’s reputation as the greatest midrange shooter of all time is one that feels more secure than others. Perhaps saying that is sacrilegious to some, but it’s a statement that is defendable.

Let’s now add Chris Paul and Devin Booker to the mix. As far as triumvirates go, that very likely could be the greatest mid-range force the NBA has witnessed in its 76-year history. Take each player’s stats from mid-range across their last three seasons.

Chris Paul

Can Chris Paul win some silverware at Phoenix? (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Durant: 10-16ft = .552%, 16-3P = .542%
Paul: 10-16ft = .535 %, 16-3P = .508%
Booker: 10-16ft = .503%, 16-3P = .456%

You would be hard pressed to find a better shooting trio from the mid-range across the history of the NBA. The league loves the long range, though why score two when you can get three? Fair point. I offer you the playoffs and something that football coaching legend Sir Alex Ferguson coined “squeaky bum Time”. When any sport gets tense, you need to find the easiest avenues to succeed.

The mid-range is actually an easier shot than ever before. Teams will sell out to protect the three, leaving gaping holes just inside the line for premier talents to take advantage. We’ve seen this as recently as the 2021 finals, where Booker and Paul duelled Khris Middleton in a battle for mid-range mastery.


Durant morphs this dynamic duo into an irrepressible threesome and teams will find out that scheming to protect both the mid-range and three will make defending this group virtually impossible.

Coach Monty Williams’ scheme of endless off-ball pin down sets, mixed with Paul’s playmaking genius, could create basketball nirvana. There is a chance that we could be about to witness the most aesthetically pleasing style of basketball since the Warrior’s changed the league in the 2010’s.

Young Durant was required to be an all-time scorer in Oklahoma. Golden State needed a shot creator who could blend into the flow of their system. Brooklyn wanted elite isolation production. Add rim protection, perimeter defence and playmaking (yes, he’s 7-foot so I’m sure that helps a bit) and you have the ultimate Swiss army knife.

The willingness to do all these things is what differentiates Durant from the rest. His past teams varied his role and he moulded his game, unlike countless other stars to have graced the hardwood floors.


For his entire career, Devin Booker has had to be his team’s best player. No longer.

The gravity that Durant carries will completely change Booker’s offensive value. Instead of defences having to game-plan to remove Booker as a primary threat, he is now arguably the second best offensive talent on the Suns roster, despite possessing ‘go-to-guy’ abilities. Prior to his injury, Booker was having the greatest season of his career.

His PER and OBPM (Player Efficiency Rating and Offensive Box Plus Minus stats) are both at career highs. Booker has proved that he can be a number one option on a title team and Durant’s addition is going to unleash the champion shooting guard with more open looks than he’s ever received.

Ultimately, adding a 15-year veteran and hall of famer to a group overseen by Monty Williams and ‘The Point God’ Chris Paul, you are going to have an exceptional level of basketball IQ. Their line-up flexibility, with the additions of TJ Warren and Terrence Ross, will aid Durant’s greatest skill: adaptability.

There is no doubt that this is the Sun’s best chance at attaining their first title. It’s currently hard to look past Denver making it out of the West, but I’ll leave you with this. Good luck getting rid of this Suns in a best of 7 series.