dirk nowitzki is the greatest sharpshooter of all time. that view is apparently controversial to karl anthony-towns, who stated:
“I am the best big man shooter of all time. it is a fact. you can see the statistics. I don’t have to play like nobody else. everyone trying to become the second version of me when I’m the first version. I don’t have to be the second version of someone else. I’m already original, I don’t have to be a duplicate of another person.”
towns originally made these claims to athletics in December, but has not retracted them. they gained some steam after he won the three-point contest during all-star weekend. towns was the second tallest player to win the three point shootout. dirk was the tallest. towns is a fantastic shooter regardless of size. he even has a statistical argument as the greatest 3-point shooting big of all time. but the three-point shot is not the only type of shot.
Kevin Durant, who is disqualified from this throne only because he doesn’t identify as a great man, dismissed Towns’ remarks. during said:
“dirk is the greatest big man shooter of all time,” durant said. “While I respect kat, he is dirk nowitzki. for kat to say that, come on. … dirk is the best big man shooter”
towns plays in an era that follows more analytics, so their shot numbers are more efficient. The true shooting percentage for the NBA as a whole has never been lower than 55.2 percent since Cities’ rookie year. The true shooting percentage of the league as a whole was below 52.0 percent four times in Dirk’s career.
thus, peoples true shooting percentage of 62.4 is less dominant compared to dirk’s 57.7 percent than it initially seemed. Towns still has an advantage because his true shooting percentage was 12 percent better than the league average, but Dirk’s was just eight. This includes the end of Dirk’s career when he could barely move, as the league became more efficient as a whole. towns will have its own phase of decline that will eventually reduce their numbers as the league continues to trend toward more efficient offenses.
The free kick is one of the best judges of pure shooting skill, as it is the only form of shooting where all else is truly equal. Towns is an 83.4 percent free throw shooter in his career with a career-high 85.9 percent. dirk had a career free throw shooting percentage of 87.9 percent and broke the record for towns in 16 separate seasons.
The next thing to look at is the variety of shots from both players. towns is elite around the edge and immediately shoots three at a time. those are the only places on the court where he takes a high volume of shots. dirk was the elite virtually everywhere. kirk goldsberry used one of his heatmaps to show the difference.
this is part of why dirk was so much more successful in the big moments. the city game is more predictable. remove those two areas, and you have little left to do. Towns averaged just 15.2 points while shooting 46.7 percent from the ground, 27.3 percent from 3-point range and 73.9 percent from the free throw line in his only playoff appearance thus far. .
dirk is possibly the best mid-range shooter in history. he is the leading scorer in the last 25 years at every distance from 12 to 20 feet. Towns is unlikely to be the leading scorer from any distance because he is not the volume shooter that some of the young guards are, nor is he the paint destroyer that Giannis Antetokounmpo is.
dirk was unfairly reprimanded for lackluster playoff performances early in his career, but he never averaged less than 19.1 points per game in any playoff series. he had five series in which he averaged at least 29.9 points per game, which is roughly double the 15.2 points per game in his only playoff series. dirk made iconic shots in the playoffs. He is the only player in NBA history to lead a 50-win team in 10 straight seasons.
the biggest shot towns has taken in his career was the shot he gave to dirk when he was proclaimed the greatest big man shooter of all time. until he hits some big shots that matter, he’s downright disrespectful of the part of him even comparing himself to dirk, let alone placing himself above dirk. dirk is still the best big man shooter of all time.