This Dirk Nowitzki guy is really something. Even in his 17th season, the legend is still taking youngsters behind the woodshed in one-on-one situations. As Jon Schumann of NBA.com reports, 36-year-old Nowitzki is still among the league’s most effective and efficient isolation players.
Surprisingly, Dirk is even higher on the list (eighth) this season than last (10th) in points per isolation. Dirk leads the top-10 in isolations and has also taken the most field goal attempts out of isolations, meaning he’s been able to maintain league-leading quality even while his usage soars over most other players on the list. For example, Nowitzki has more than double the number of isolations as leaders Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, each with only 56 such looks.
Nowitzki uses his typical moves to produce points out of isolation looks. His one-legged fade has been as devastating as ever this season. Per NBA.com, he’s shooting 53.3 percent on field goals after taking between 3-6 dribbles. Basically the only time he’s ever dribbling the ball that much is when he’s backing down a player either along the baseline or at the elbow, and if he doesn’t pass out of a double-team from those areas he’s going to fade away more often than not. He’s been doing it for 17 seasons now and he’s still fooling defenders. Incredible.
He’s also facing up more often this season than I remember him doing last year. Many times throughout a game, we’ll see him catch the ball, square up against his defender, maybe ball fake a couple times, and then release a jump shot once he feels he has ample room.
He doesn’t do anything complicated or sneaky, necessarily. He just uses patience. According to NBA.com, he’s shooting 47.9 percent on field goal attempts when he possesses the ball for 2-6 seconds before letting off a shot.
If anything, this also shows that Nowitzki’s drop in FG% to 46.4 percent this season has more to do with getting used to teammates than anything. Dirk is still balling out in iso situations and his bevy of one-on-one moves remain as unguardable as ever. There’s nothing wrong with his shot, then, as much as he and the Mavs need more time to jell before playoff time rolls around. These are all numbers to follow as the season wears on, especially as Nowitzki sees increases in playing time with new point guard Rajon Rondo. The two have already come together fairly well, but that relationship will grow even stronger through the All-Star break and into the home stretch.