Mid-Range Monday: Dirk Nowitzki


With the three ball being so popular and analytics telling you the mid-range jumper is a bad shot, the mid-range game is nearly extinct so the Basketball Society will be bringing you “Mid-Range Mondays” where we highlight players who perfected operating in the mid-range area. Check out last week’s edition that featured Sam Cassell!

Dirk Nowitzki is a future Hall-of-Famer who has made a living off of being a well diversed big man. When you think you’ve taken something away from him, he adapts and scores in another way. At 7 feet tall, the NBA had never seen a big man that could shoot the three and put the ball on the floor like Dirk could. He was certainly a hybrid and definitely one of the best scorers the league has seen.

Nowitzki is one of the pioneers of the “stretch big man” that has become such a commodity in the league today. He made a living off of pick-and-pops for open jumpers. But what made him so great was the ability to put the ball on floor for a pull-up jumper when being overplayed. A pull-up jumper sounds so simple, but when you have a 7-footer with that ability, you know you have something special.

Dirk Nowitzki

And then comes the post-up. Dirk Nowitzki as a spot-up shooter was great but where he was even more unstoppable was with his back to the basket. With Dirk’s shooting form combined with his height, he has the ability to shoot over any defender as he pleases. He’s gotten multiple points by just backing down his defenders to a comfortable position and shooting over them. But he introduced the NBA to a new move with his unorthodox one-legged fadeaway. The fade, leg extension, and high release point makes the shot impossible to block and even after 18 seasons in the NBA, defenders are still trying to find ways to stop it. The move is so lethal that some of the biggest superstars in the league after added it into their repertoire.

ESPN’s Sport Science goes in-depth on Dirk’s fade:

Dirk Nowitzki has about 2 more years left in his career and even at his latter stages, he still has the ability to get 20 points on any night. He was always a great shooter but what took him to the next level was the ability to get buckets in the in-between game. Whether you’re a big man or a guard, Nowitzki has skills and attributes that are worth studying. He’s a living legend that will go down as one of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen.  A 7-ft big man that could shoot the long ball, get to the basket, and score with his back to the basket….What more can you ask for?

Check out this montage of Dirk Nowitzki getting buckets!


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