The NBA mantra is becoming “do not take midrange shots, particularly long two pointers.”
But there is an exception to every rule — enter Dirk Nowitzki, the best midrange shooter in the NBA. He took 55.7 percent of his shot attempts last season in the midrange but he hit a very impressive 50.4 percent of them. Nowitzki’s one-legged fadeaway from the elbow is arguably the most indefensible shot in the NBA, but Nowitzki can score from anywhere (he shot 74 percent at the rim last season and 39.8 percent from three). He is a scoring machine (21.7 points a game at age 35) and the best shooting big man the league has ever seen.
And next season he will be tougher to defend — he has sped up his shot release.
That’s just not fair.
“I don’t think, to the naked eye, you would see it,” Nowitzki told ESPN.com. “I don’t know if the [average] fan will see the difference. But I’m always trying to get better, and this is just a little tool for me to shoot a little quicker. We’ll see how it works during the season.”
Geschwindner has often referred to what he calls Nowitzki’s “toolbox” and the idea of adding one new specialty every offseason.
“We worked on a quicker release,” Geschwindner said, citing Golden State’s Steph Curry as the standard-setter for getting shots off rapid-fire and insisting that Nowitzki also can become adept at getting the ball to the release point faster “if he sticks with it.”
You know why Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest European player ever in the NBA? Because at age 36 he spent his summer working hard to improve an aspect of his game this much — making an existing strength that much stronger.
At 36 Nowitzki doesn’t get the lift he once did, he doesn’t create the space he once did to get off his shot — so now he’ll just get it off a little bit quicker. Making him that much harder to defend.
Keep an eye on the Mavericks — they made smart off-season additions (Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler, for example) and if Nowitzki is still vintage Nowitzki they are going to win a lot of games this season (I think they finish as the four seed in the West) and be a very tough out come the playoffs.