May 5, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) reacts at the end of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game four of the 2012 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Thunder beat the Mavs 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Can Dirk Nowitzki Regain Title Form?

We all know Dirk Nowitzki is an outstanding player and he validated his ticket to the Hall of Fame when the Mavericks won the NBA Championship in 2011. But has he reached his peak? Is he on his way down the mountain? Can he regain his unstoppable form from a year ago to give the Mavs a chance at winning the title again during his career? Can he be the go-to guy of a franchise eager to return to glory?

Most NBA teams who have a fighting chance at winning the title have at least two stars and many integral role players surrounding them:

The San Antonio Spurs have Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, however, they also have one of the deepest rosters in the league.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but they also have a terrific supporting cast around those guys.

The Los Angeles Lakers have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

The LA Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin…and so on and so forth.

The Western Conference is stacked with teams who have more than one star in hopes of advancing in the postseason. The Mavericks have Dirk. And thats about it. The rest of the roster appears to be filler. Jason Terry can be a crucial third piece, but he cannot be expected to fill the role of the 1-2 punch with Dirk. That needs to be a starter. A leader. Someone who’s talents can blend with the those of Nowitzki in the half court and the fast break. Someone, perhaps, with the last name Williams, first name Deron.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The Mavs allowed crucial pieces of their title team to flee after last season’s historic run in order to be a big player in this season’s free agency. In order to land a big piece, Mark Cuban will need to perform his best sales pitch. He’s one of the best owners in the NBA, perhaps in all professional sports, however, he will need to convince a high profile player that Dallas has the capabilities of winning. Without the necessary ingredients to win a championship, free agents will not be inclined to relocate to Dallas.

The biggest factor lies in the question posed earlier: Can Dirk regain his superstar form from a season ago? We’ve all watched him take over games over and over again. His patented -fall-away-one-legged jumper is indefensible. He’s a seven footer who can step out on the perimeter and consistently shoot the long ball. But we knew that already. His inside game is what needs to continue to improve. If he solely relies on his jumper for the remainder of his career as he continues to age, the Mavs have no chance at winning. If he continues to drop in the rebounding department, the Mavs cannot expect to compete at the highest level. It’s up to Dirk to dig down deep and find his inner power player and channel that on the court in the coming seasons.

Regardless of who the Mavericks end up luring to the American Airlines Arena next season, one thing is for certain: Dirk will forever compete. He will not lay down and simply allow the league to trample over him. He’s tasted glory once. And he has quickly found out that he is hungry for more. Let’s see what he’s made of.

Tags: Andrew Bynum Blake Griffin Chris Paul Dallas Mavericks Deron Williams Dirk Nowitzki James Harden Jason Terry Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Manu Ginobili Mark Cuban Pau Gasol Russell Westbrook Tim Duncan Tony Parker

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