Dirk Nowitzki isn’t done.
We are still trying to find out a lot about the Dallas Mavericks after the first half of the season, but there’s one thing that’s crystal clear: Dirk Nowitzki isn’t done.
Last week Nowitzki was selected to his 12th All-Star game and despite what anyone says, Nowitzki is clearly deserving of that spot when you look at his body of work this season. He is easily having his best season since the Mavs won the title in 2011, averaging 21.9 points per game, 6.2 rebounds and shooting 48.7 percent from the field.
It seemed like people deemed that Nowitzki would never be the same player after last season, where he missed the first chunk of the season due to knee surgery. However, Nowitzki looked like his old self towards the end of last season when the Mavs were in contention for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
I knew then that Nowitzki wasn’t done. Was he not the same? Of course, he was coming off knee surgery for the first time in his career and didn’t have a training camp or preseason.
This season, Nowitzki has looked like a superstar and guess what? He had a full off season and preseason to get prepared and get his knee right. Which is something he didn’t have two seasons ago because of the lockout, and last season.
The question is: How is Nowitzki, at 35, still putting up big numbers?
Nowitzki’s game doesn’t revolve around athleticism or quickness or anything that goes away with age. His game revolves around him being able to shoot the basketball and get position on whoever is guarding him. There have been a couple of nights this season where Nowitzki’s legs aren’t in his shot, but for the most part his jumper has looked better than ever. It also helps that Nowitzki has players like Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Devin Harris, who have a high basketball IQ and know when and where to get him the ball. Much better than last year’s guard trio of Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Mike James.
The only thing thing that is different about Nowitzki is because he doesn’t drive to the basket as much, and, in turn, doesn’t get to the free throw line as much. That really doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering Nowitzki doesn’t have the same burst as he did a couple of years ago. But make no mistake, he is still an elite player and very deserving of that All-Star spot.
The Mavs went 3-1 during last weeks four game home stand and pulled out what might have been their biggest win of the season Wednesday night in Memphis. Throughout that stretch, Nowitzki averaged 29.8 points per game while shooting 61.6 percent from the field. If that doesn’t sound like an All-Star, then I don’t know what does.
With football season over and baseball still about two months away from getting into full swing, the focus shifts to Nowitzki and the Mavericks and their quest to return to the playoffs. If that isn’t enough to get you to pay attention, then at least watch to appreciate the greatness of Dirk Nowitzki. At 35, we don’t know how much longer he’s going to play so we have to enjoy it while we still have it. But it’s clear that he’s not done.