DALLAS -- As if Dirk Nowitzki hasn't trained everyone to believe that every time he flicks his wrist and releases a textbook rotation the ball is going in the hole, this season the Dallas Mavericks forward is taking it to an all new level.
Through 21 games, Nowitzki is shooting 55.3 percent from the floor, blowing away any of his previous excellent shooting percentages. The lone season he shot 50 percent (50.2 in 2006-07), he won the MVP.
In 10 of the last 13 games, Nowitzki has clicked at 50 percent or better. In the last two games, he's 21-of-33 (63.6 percent). During the 13-game stretch, nine times he's scored at least 25 points and 12 times at least 20. Eleven times this season he's made at least 10 field goals.
How does his shooting percentage compare around the league?
It's really no contest.
Nowitzki, fourth in the NBA in scoring at 24.9 points per game, ranks fourth in shooting percentage among the league's forwards and 10th overall. But, the rankings alone don't accurately portray the precision of Nowitzki's shot-making.
Consider that among the top 10 in field-goal percentage, only Nowitzki -- and to a lesser extent Lakers forward Lamar Odom -- scores the majority of his baskets from the perimeter and not within five feet of the rim.
Also, Nowitzki's 17.4 shot attempts per game rank ninth-most in the league. Of the top eight shot-takers, only Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire (53.0 percent), Warriors guard Monta Ellis (48.3), Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley (47.7) and Bulls guard Derrick Rose (45.4) are shooting it better than 45 percent. Remember, Nowitzki is at 55 percent.
Also his 17.4 shot attempts per game are more than any of the nine players with a higher shooting percentage: Five more than Magic center Dwight Howard (12.6), who ranks seventh in shooting percentage at 57.9 percent; nearly seven more shots than Odom (10.9), who ranks sixth at 58.3 percent; 10 more than Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (7.4), who ranks second; and nine more than league-leader, Nuggets center Nene (8.2) at 62.6 percent.
While highly accurate from more spots on the floor and with a greater chance for error, Nowitzki is arguably the game's most reliable shot-maker going.