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Richaun Holmes’ push shot has become a ‘legitimate weapon’

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At this point, it’s far more surprising when he misses than when he makes that unorthodox floater.

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The first field-goal attempt of the season for Richaun Holmes was a push shot. It was blocked by Nikola Jokic, but Holmes went right back to the well a few possessions later. His shot came a little outside of the paint, and the ball bounced on the rim a couple of times before falling in, but otherwise it was mostly like the other 70-plus floaters Holmes has taken this season — it went in.

Even though that push shot is about an unorthodox of a go-to move as any in the NBA, it works. And for the Sacramento center, that shot is a big part of why Holmes is having his best offensive season as a pro in his sixth year in the league.

Per NBA Stats, Holmes has converted 30 of his 41 floating jump shots this season, a success rate of 73.1 percent that’s even better than his overall 2-point field-goal percentage of 65.3. Going through the film makes it clear that a good chunk of his push shots were mischaracterized as jump shots, but even accounting for those, his field-goal percentage on those looks is about 68 percent.

To be clear, that’s insane. The floater range is supposed to be one of the more inefficient areas of the court. Teams average about 42 percent shooting from the mid-range, and defenses deliberately concede shots there. And yet, Holmes is absolutely raking from that distance.

On a recent episode of the Lowe post podcast, Zach Lowe and De’Aaron Fox had the following exchange about Holmes:

Zach Lowe: Are you surprised whenever Richaun Holmes misses a push shot?

De’Aaron Fox: Man, it’s crazy.

ZL: It’s crazy how good that shot is.

DF: And one thing, if he misses one, and we get the offensive rebound, if he gets it again. He’s making it, there’s no way he’s missing two in a row. Ever.

Fox isn’t being hyperbolic. He spoke with Lowe right after the Clippers win, when Holmes hit three of his trademark shots, including one coming after he had chased an offensive rebound.

The Kings rely on Holmes to create spacing with that shot. He may not have a reliable jumper from distance, but he can hit the floater from free-throw range, which allows him to space out and leave some driving lanes open. Holmes can also bust out that floater against drop coverages when Sacramento is running pick-and-roll. If bigs try to get in his air space, that leaves an opening under the basket, so it’s a win-win.

There’s a reason Lowe called it possibly “the best floater in the entire league” and “a legitimate weapon” for Holmes, and for the Kings.

Holmes is getting more and more comfortable with that shot even as defenses get more tape on him. He’s taken more than 20 floaters in the last five games. And because of those results, despite the odd look of it, Fox says they’re happy to keep going to Holmes when he’s in range.

“He’s trying to get to that shot, he’s hunting that shot, which obviously we’re all fine with, but I mean other players in the league, as a coach, you might not be fine with them shooting that shot.... But that shot’s almost automatic for him.”

It certainly feels that way, and the numbers agree.