Dirk Nowitzki – one of the most unique and versatile forwards to ever play the game. Some might even consider Dirk the best foreigner of all-time in the NBA. His contribution to the game as a seven-footer mostly lies in what he’s introduced to us offensively. More specifically, Nowitzki cultivated a move that has become part of his patented repertoire over the years, and as fans and other players started to take note, we saw more players start to impersonate the move and adapt it to their own flare.
See some of the move here with Dirk talking about his fadeaway, which he says he adopted from Michael Jordan:
The move might appear somewhat complex in nature. It’s absolutely more difficult than it looks and can only be used comfortably when practiced incessantly. It’s the kind of move that great scorers, more specifically great shooters, want to have because it’s all about shot creation – it gives you the kind of separation that makes for an easier look at the rim and just enough space to get a shot off.
What distinguishes the move? It’s not just a basic fadeaway shot. If you notice from Dirk, it’s the slight lift of usually the right leg as you almost look to ricochet off of your defender into your shot. It’s a vertical motion, even though you’re momentum is inclined.
With all of that said, lets take a look at some of the best impersonators of the patented Dirk fadeaway in the game right now, all of whom have mastered their own version of the move, respectively.
I’m a huge proponent of Carmelo Anthony as one of the two best scorers in the game, and because of his scoring/shooting ability, adding this move to his arsenal was inevitable. Melo does a great job of using his body and footwork when he posts up, which is typically when he’s looking to apply the move. The quick trigger he has on his jump shot along with his physical ability allow him to create space for himself to get the shot off on his back foot. Of anyone, including Dirk himself, it’s arguable that Carmelo has the smoothest version.
One of the greatest scorers of all time made a point to adapt the move as well. Another one who loves to make a living out of the post, Kobe uses the move in plenty of ways, but mostly seen in a step-back fashion out of the post. He’ll take a few dribbles to survey and feel you out, and then takes a separation dribble to initiate the space to get the shot off on his back foot. See Kobe go through several series of his variation of the move below.
As one of the other two best scorers in the league, in my opinion, Kevin Durant had no choice but to adopt the move as well. Durant’s use of the Dirk fadeaway is more resonant with Dirk’s use of the move, in terms of using his length to get the shot off. But Durant’s cat-quickness off the bounce makes it look equally if not more difficult to defend. Creating separation is naturally a huge part of Durant’s offensive game, and this move only adds to his unlimited range as a scorer.
The only center who could possibly be on this list but definitely belongs here. I don’t know who’s with me on this, but we all must realize that Marc Gasol’s post game includes his own rendition of Dirk’s one-legged fadeaway. It could be perceived as your typical turnaround jumper, but if you look close enough, the footwork and techniques are there. Don’t believe me? Check Gasol’s post-up at 3:04 of the video below during his 30-point game against the Mavericks just this week. It’s there.
I had a little more trouble digging up evidence for this one, so just take my word for it for now. Anderson is known to be a great shooter, one of the best in the league even, and sometimes he’ll show you some versatility in his shooting game. He can apply his subtle version of the Dirk fade away to get his shot off out of the post area. Certainly more rare and less prolific than his company on this list, but I urge you, keep your eyes out for tidbits of the move from Anderson during a Pelicans game.
And be on the look out for that graceful, patented, shot creating one-legged fadeaway in your sightings. If you see a good one hit me @marley_mcfly on Twitter or send it to @Bballsociety_ so we can feature it on our Instagram (@basketballsociety_).