Value of the Midrange With Time as the Enemy.
Further, the main problem faced by the Rio Grande Vipers-style of shooting 3s and layups exclusively is two-fold. First the defense knows those are the most efficient shots, and as Charles Barkley likes to say "them guys getting paid too." NBA-level defense isn't about taking everything away, it's about taking the best options away and living with the results. And speaking of options, there are only so many available in any given possession due to the relentless nature of the 24 second clock. As relatively inefficient as a 17 footer might be, it's much closer in those terms to a corner three than it is to simply handing the ref the ball and walking back on D after a shot clock violation.
The best example from this season of a team using both an effective midrange game and the threat of said effective game in producing a top level offense is the Trailblazers. While some context-free attempts at analysis see LaMarcus Aldridge's midrange gunning as hurting the Portland offense, the threat of that shot (as well as it's effectiveness - Aldridge's shooting percentage (middling as it may be this year) and low extremely low turnover rate combined with Portland's proficiency on the offensive glass make the aggregate of his mid range attempts good attempts. And the fact that these attempts in a way represent a floor on the effectiveness of a Blazers' possession means they can run intricate sets with branching options searching for a better look, knowing that a decent enough shot is almost always available .
To a degree the proof is in the pudding, Matt created this useful comparison of where Portland and Houston gets their points. Portland "trades" points at the rim and at the line for midrange:
Certainly, personnel decisions can and will be affected by the growing realization that the in-between game is less efficient. But, as with Moneyball's focus on OBP as an undervalued trait in a baseball player, the present inefficiency (to the extent it exists, and the continuing insistence by some that Evan Turner is a good NBA player indicates that it continues to exist) is only that until the market adjusts. And in fact if the history of sports leagues tells us anything, the market will likely over-adjust if Houston in particular achieves any real success with their bifurcated style.
Which gets me back to agreeing with Edward that "midrange shots essentially cheap ways of manufacturing offense." And while he is speaking on the micro level of an individual game or even possession, the line of thinking holds true for the macro, team construction level. The point guard who can come of a pick-and-roll and stick a 17 footer vs. ICE coverage, or the wing who can curl off a screen into a high percentage elbow J, or as we're already seeing the pick-and-pop big who's passing and shooting skills help blow up aggressive hedging schemes could become the new "3 and D" guys, undervalued and increasingly effective because of the relative scarcity of those skillsets as "rim and range" become more sought after.