Dirk Nowitzki Has Revolutionized the 30,000-Point Club

On Tuesday night, Nowitzki became the sixth player in NBA history to score 30,000 career points. But he was the first to do it with such efficiency.

I was listening to a podcast on Tuesday and the hosts were talking about the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki scoring his 30,000th point in his game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Going into the contest, he was 20 points away and had scored 20-plus in just five games this season. So, it was more unlikely that he would reach the milestone.

Like he has throughout his 18-year career, Nowitzki surpassed expectations. He joined the elite club in less than 10 minutes on the court as he scored 18 points in the first quarter and 25 for the game. Nowitzki finished the game 9 of 13 from the field and 3 of 4 from beyond the three-point line in just over 24 minutes.

It was certainly fitting that he conquered the feat at home, in front of more than 20,000 Dallas Mavericks fans, since the seven-foot German became the third player in league history (joining Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone) to score 30,000 points with one team. It isn't who he's done it for, though -- it's how he's accomplished the feat that is so unique.

Differentiating From the Pack

Looking at the list of six players who make up the elite group of all-time scorers, you can see where Nowitzki differentiates himself from the others.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar38,38715.6%
Karl Malone36,9288527.4%
Kobe Bryant33,643182732.9%
Michael Jordan32,29258132.7%
Wilt Chamberlain31,419N/AN/A
Dirk Nowitzki30,005175538.1%

Bryant is the only other player to have hit at least 1,000 threes on the way to 30,000 points, and only Michael Jordan had at least 500. The other three were primarily inside players, and Chamberlain never saw the three-point shot during his career.

Wilt and Kareem didn't play in an era like today, in which bigs are known for stretching the floor out to the three-point line. That's one giant way Nowitzki has helped the game progress to where it is today.

Times, They're a Changin'

A seven-footer hitting threes? It was unheard of before his arrival. While pushing the game to new limits, Dirk changed the landscape of the top six scorers in history.

Bryant accumulated more three-point makes while attempting 21.2% of his field goals from deep, but Nowitzki, while attempting 20.6% of his attempts from three, converted at a much higher rate.

In fact, boosted by 87.9% shooting from the foul line, he owns the second-highest true shooting percentage (57.9%) of all six players, trailing only Abdul-Jabbar (59.2%). Still, he's the only one to do it with a three-point attempt rate reflective of his style and the new ways of today's NBA.

Sure, guys like Stephen Curry or even fellow seven-footers Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns could one day (barring injury) challenge this greatness. But until then, Dirk's the king of the three-point age we now all know and love. He is the most unique and best shooter in a club full of NBA greats.