At a time when efficiency is as important as ever, taking a half-court shot is like a fork in the road for NBA players. It’s an opportunity for a team to score a free three points since the opposition is never getting the ball back, and that amount is more than the difference between Miami’s league-leading offensive rating and eighth-place Phoenix’s, according to NBA.com. (The drop-off is about the same anywhere in that statistic, save for one of the worst offenses ever in Philadelphia. More on them in a bit.)
The drawback to the heave is that it also counts in the box score whether or not it goes through the net, and as I’ve used as an example in previous posts about those shots, it affected how Kevin Durant and others of the Oklahoma City Thunder approached those end-of-quarter situations last season.
But to the advantage of teams and the entertainment of fans, this season’s attempts from beyond half-court (currently 331) are on pace to top 2013’s total of 361. It’s a positive sign since heaves rarely ever affect individual stats by a season’s end and never accounted for more than one percent of all attempted threes anyway.
And last night added a little extra to the uptick thanks to none other than, um, Casper Ware?
The 76ers guard, in just the second game of his career, scored the league’s 13th shot from beyond half-court this season, surpassing the record for made heaves previously set in 2010 according to Basketball-Reference.
Below is a season-by-season breakdown of shots from beyond half-court:
Before Ware, no player made a heave since March 1 when Marc Gasol dialed one up from deep, and as you might guess from the total made shots in the table above, that drought for multiple weeks is quite common. The longest came in 2005 when the first of only two made heaves was scored on January 26. 2010 and 2012 are the only seasons when two were made on the same night.
And if those field goals were ever worth more than three points, they should be way higher than the four discussed earlier this season. Very similar to what I’ve included in previous posts about half-court shots, to reach an effective field goal percentage of .500 we’d need either 1,598 of those 4,794 total heaves to go in or the 115 already made to be worth about 42 points each. If the latter were the case, even a casual NBA fan would surpass Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in no time.
Lastly, below is the company Ware joins this season with his made heave last night:
But at least he has a contract guaranteeing him money next season. The same can’t be said for a few players who’ve suited up for the 76ers, including Casper Ware. If the former guard for Long Beach State never plays a minute after this season, his name will at least have some lasting power with NBA fans.
When reaching for other reasons to remember Ware, though, hopefully sinking a record-breaking half-court shot all while Philadelphia lost a record-tying 26th game will come to mind. He still has a couple games left on his 10-day contract to add to his resume, but that heave currently stands as one of the few bright spots for the post-trade deadline 76ers.
All stats are according to Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.
Edit: According to Basketball-Reference’s shot finder, Ware’s shot was made from 46 feet, a foot across half-court even though his player page lists the attempt from beyond that point. ESPN’s shot chart and NBA.com also marks his shot from behind the line and video confirms that. Going forward, however, maybe I’ll have to dial back the filtered shots to beyond 45 feet, but maybe it’s just an error in the Shot Finder that will be fixed in time.