With Dirk Nowitzki sitting at 37-years old and the playoff performer we all know he still is, why is he not resting more throughout the 2015-16 season?
It was just a couple of seasons ago that Dirk Nowitzki played 80 games while averaging 32.9 minutes per game in the 2013-14 NBA season. It was a bounce back year for Nowitzki as he got his scoring average for the year back over 21 points per game, but as everyone always says…Father Time is still undefeated.
And the Dallas Mavericks organization knows that.
Coming into last season, Mavs fans finally heard talk coming from the Mavs side about how they were going to try to cut back some of the work load for Dirk in the coming season. Achieve that, the Mavs did.
At 36, Dirk finished last year averaging 29.6 minutes a game, the lowest minutes he has averaged since his rookie season in 1998-99.
Dirk continued to defy the odds and led the Mavericks once again to the playoffs. Even though the short-handed Mavericks lost the first round series to the Houston Rockets, Nowitzki averaged 21.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg on 35.8 mpg in the series.
Dallas made a conservative effort to keep Nowitzki’s minutes below 30 for the season and even rested him in one of the final regular season games so he could be in full force come playoff time.
Now, fast forward to this past offseason where the Mavs, after losing out on a well-known free agent, decided to make another run at the playoffs and kiss the word “tank” to the curb.
After signing Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams, the Mavs had a new backcourt to be excited about. They went out and traded a future second round pick for Zaza Pachulia while hoping their past offseason investment in Chandler Parsons can come to full health soon. They also brought back key veterans to round out the bench.
Moves were being made and changes were taking place, but the same message was being preached again about Nowitzki entering this new season….keeping him rested and limiting his minutes.
So are the Mavs achieving that this season so far?
Nowitzki is back averaging over 30 minutes on the season and up until Wednesday night’s game in New Orleans, had only sat out one game for rest.
So why isn’t Nowitzki’s minutes lower than last year’s and why isn’t he being rested more?
It’s simple…the Mavericks can’t afford it.
Say what you want about Monta Ellis, but the guy was a bonified scorer last year for the Mavs. He finished the season averaging 18.9 points a game compared to Nowitzki’s 17.3 ppg.
Last year, we even saw Chandler Parsons finish the season averaging 15.7 points a game in a season that was looking to be the foundation for a breakout season this year.
This season, Nowitzki simply doesn’t have the scoring around him to allow him to be off the floor for massive amounts of time. At this point in the season, there isn’t a player on the team averaging more than 15 points a game. Deron Williams is behind Dirk (17.3) with 14.8 points a game, and he’s only played 29 games.
So what about the two highest paid players on the team? Well Wesley Matthews ($16.4 million) is averaging 13.2 points a game, his lowest mark since his rookie season coming off the bench in Portland. Chandler Parsons ($15.3 million) is averaging 9.3 points a game, still a low mark considering he has played over 25 minutes in more than half of his games.
“…this is a marathon, not a sprint”
Some would say that it’s working since the Mavs are sitting at a 21-15 record while holding down the 5th spot in the West, but I would remind them that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
I realize that the Spurs have a budding superstar in Kawhi Leonard and all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, but their handling of Tim Duncan is exactly what I want for Nowitzki. Duncan is averaging 26.2 minutes per game while already sitting out six games of the season. Duncan should be in full force come April.
The Mavs will need a fully healthy and fully rested Dirk Nowitzki more than ever come playoff time. Very few teams have an x-factor, clutch performer who you can comfortably put the ball in his hands in any situation, and the Mavs will need their x-factor ready to go.
The Mavs and Nowitzki cannot continue at this rate for the entire season and I believe the organization knows that. The days of putting the whole team on Nowitzki’s back SHOULD be over. The team has to find scoring options to help carry the load.
Will Parsons and Matthews start to fully show they are the future of the franchise? Will Deron Williams stay healthy and turn back the clock to his past scoring days? Will the Mavs make trade to bring in a guy who can put the ball in the basket?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know we need a certain German fully rested come April.