‘Dirk Overrated?’ Where does the Mavericks star rank among big men?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA Finals have begun, and it took no time at all for the Denver Nuggets to rush out to a 1-0 lead against the Miami Heat. Nuggets star Nikola Jokic lead the way with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. This has become the norm for the five time all-star, as he has finished four of his past five games with a triple-double. This has also pushed Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki into the conversation.

With three wins away from a title, Fox Sports reporter Chris Broussard believes Jokic will surpass the Mavericks legend, Dirk Nowitzki, if he wins an NBA title.

“If [Nikola Jokic] wins this championship he’s better than Dirk [Nowitzki],” Broussard said.

He argues that Jokic having multiple MVP awards all but solidifies his status over the big German.

However that is not all the NBA reporter had to say about Nowitzki, as he went on to say that “Dirk is overrated by a lot of people.”

So this begs the question: In terms of NBA where does the Mavericks star rank among NBA bigs? Where does Dirk Nowitzki rank?

To begin this we must first compile a list of dominant power forwards and centers.

This will be broken down into three categories: Superior Status, Dominant and Stellar.

Superior will be players who are all time elite and have a high equality stacked resume.

For Dominant, this will be players that are hall of famers that changed the game in someway.

And lastly stellar resembles those who were great, but lacking in certain areas.

Superior Status:

To be superior players must have multiple champions, MVP awards and various other achievements.

how can an unknown player from overseas be “overrated” when he has 14 all-star selections, four all-NBA first team votes and one NBA title?

As far as centers, their are only five individuals that fit this category. This list include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon. These five centers all played a pivotal role in helping their team winning collective titles. Along with that, they also racked MVPs, all star nods and All-NBA selections.

Yes, I did not include players like David Robinson and Moses Malone, but I will explain later on.

Now as far as power forwards, one person gets the nod here and that is Tim Duncan. The Spurs legend is the one true four that played both sides of the ball and was a key component to his team’s five championships.

Don’t worry, Nowitzki will be coming up soon.

Dominant Status:

As mentioned, this list is for players who have at least one title under their belt and solidified themselves in the game in someway.

At the five, we have Robinson and Malone topping off the list. While Robinson has multiple titles, none of that would be possible without his counterpart Duncan. Malone on the other hand was a three time MPV and 12 time all-star with one title.

One final center I would add to the list is Willis Reed. Reed was dominant in the 70s winning two titles and one MVP award.

To round off the power forwards we have Kevin Garnett, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bob Pettit, Kevin McHale, Nowitzki and Karl Malone (who is the one exemption.)

Garnett was the first player since 1975 to be drafted out of high school. Giannis became one of the flashiest forwards, while Pettit and McHale changed the game earlier one using their size to show how the game is more than just shooting. Nowitzki and Malone became dominant scorers, as Nowitzki paved the the way for big man shooters, while Malone was unbreakable down low.


This list is made up of players who either don’t have a title, but have made some amazing accomplishments.

Some centers that come to mind include Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Patrick Ewing, and Bill Walton (who could be higher but was prevailed by injuries.)

All these centers have great awards from MVP recognitions, all- selections and all NBA team selections. However not winning a title hurts their rankings.

For  power forwards, the list includes Charles Barkley, Shawn Kemp and Chris Webber all make the cut. Other names I would include are Dennis Rodman, Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh. While those three players all have multiples championships, they were overshadowed by teammates or players far superior in their position. This would be an exemption as well because of their ability to lead a team individually.

So to counter Broussard’s claim, Jokic at the moment is not better than Dirk Nowitzki. For him to surpass the Mavericks legend he one needs to win multiple titles (remember Mavericks went to two in his era) and two he must win a quality title.

Next. Dallas Mavericks: 1 Possible trade scenario to solve their issues. dark

Even if the Nuggets win the championship, what would be more impressive: beating an eight seed or beating the Heat with a stacked trio consisting of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh?

I think we all know the answer.

Also how can an unknown player from overseas be “overrated” when he has 14 all-star selections, four all-NBA first team votes and one NBA title?

I mean just go look back at all the ninth selections in NBA history, the answer is clear: Nowitzki exceeded expectations.