As part of its 2014-15 season preview, Grantland ranked Dirk Nowitzki as the No. 1 shooter in the NBA. Dirk finished just ahead of Stephen Curry (No. 2) and third-place Kevin Durant, the reigning league MVP.
The shot chart above, created by Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry, details just how excellent a shooter Nowitzki has become. His shot chart is just blistering (in this case, red is above league average). And just how far above-par was Nowitzki during the 2013-14 season? According to NBA.com, Dirk shot at least 10 percentage points better than league average from seven of the nine two-point zones in its shot charts. His ’13-’14 campaign was an exercise in absolute efficiency from everywhere on the floor — except for the left wing, where he hit 32.2 percent of his three-point attempts, a contributing factor in his narrow miss at a 50/40/90 season. Still, Nowitzki ended last season with a ridiculous 49.7/39.8/89.9 shooting split and a career-high 54.9 effective field goal percentage. Writes Goldberry about Nowitzki:
Nowitzki integrates volume, efficiency, and ubiquity better than anyone right now. Moreover, he is hardly ever wide open when he shoots, with many of his attempts including a massive defender draped all over him. His quintessential move involves creating just a hair of separation from a defending forward like (Serge) Ibaka and launching that fadeaway that never seems to miss. It’s unfair.
But even after his outstanding 2013-14 season, Nowitzki is still looking to add to his game, and that as much as anything is what makes him such a special player. Whether it’s a skyhook or a quicker shot release, he comes into each season with something new in his arsenal. Only time will tell what he has in store for us this year, but it’s a safe bet that the best shooter in the NBA will somehow find a way to inspire even more awe.
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