It’s one thing to know a fact, to have it so ingrained in your understanding of the world that you don’t really consider what that fact means, relative to everything else. It’s something else entirely to see that fact in action or to have a visual of the fact to place it in a new light.
At least, that’s how I reacted to this Kirk Goldsberry visualization, looking at 31 zones of shooting and which player owned those areas over the last quarter century.
Leading Scorers By Zone, Last 25 Years pic.twitter.com/R5BbIxrRxS— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) August 24, 2021
If you really look at this, one thing stands out in a hurry: Dirk Nowitzki owns the most zones, six in fact. He is the best scorer from the 12-15 foot range for all but the left short corner, where Kevin Garnett scored the most from. The next closest players are Steph Curry and Ray Allen, who each own four.
We all knew how deadly Dirk was from an efficiency point of view, but it never dawned on me to consider that he would’ve scored the most points... which now that I type that out is dumb of me. He’s the sixth all time leading scorer, so of course he’s going to have scored a ton of volume from the places he like to shoot the ball from. Learn something new every day, I suppose.
Either way, it’s neat to see just how effective he was relative to other players over the same time frame. Kobe Bryant, the fourth leading scorer all time, has just one zone of dominance. Tim Duncan has just three. Of course, with certain players like Shaq, it makes total sense for him to dominate close to the basket and no where else, and he and Duncan likely came in first or second for those areas right at the basket.
We’ll always write about Dirk if there’s a good hook. He was so good and as we get away from his time with the Mavericks, his game is one that will need reminders to those who didn’t see him play consistently as he played an understated, consistent style that didn’t have as much flash as some of his contemporaries.
With that, we’ll leave you with a good highlight tape.