The Florida road trip represented a first for Dirk Nowitzki this season. Until the back-to-back in Miami and Orlando, he hadn’t had consecutive games in which he hit at least half of his shots from the floor.
In fact, Nowitzki hadn’t shot 50-plus percent since the season opener until his remarkably efficient 28-point outing in Friday’s loss to the Heat, when he was 8-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. He followed that by scoring 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting (4-of-6 from 3-point range) in Saturday’s win over Orlando.
Could this be the beginning of the big German’s first extended groove of the season?
“I wasn’t shooting it too well there for a little while,” Nowitzki told reporters in Orlando. “But I have got my rhythm now again and shooting it with confidence. I am helping the team really spread the floor. ... When there are nights where the ball isn’t going that well, I still have to be aggressive out there and make things happen.”
Through 10 games, Nowitzki’s shooting percentage (45.9) still ranks among the worst of his career. It’s his lowest since his rookie year except for the 2011-12 lockout season (45.7).
That’s despite Nowitzki, who is averaging 19.2 points per game, shooting 3-pointers at a career-best clip (45.5 percent). He’s been especially lethal from the top of the arc, hitting 14 of 20 attempts from there, according to NBA.com’s shot chart.
Coach Rick Carlisle recently suggested that Nowitzki was the best midrange jump shooter in NBA history, and there’s a decade and a half’s worth of evidence to support that theory. However, Nowitzki has struggled by his standards on attempts from 16 to 24 feet this season, making only 15 of 35.
For the sake of comparison, Nowitzki knocked down half of his 238 attempts from that range last season.
Of course, 10 games is a small sample size. These percentages could look a lot different in a week if Nowitzki’s rhythm returned with him from the road trip.