The Dallas Mavericks are the luckiest team in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki’s unconditional loyalty makes him one of the most beloved players in the NBA, and this coming season will be another example of his incredible character.
Dirk Nowitzki’s 20th season with the Dallas Mavericks will solidify him as one of the sport’s most loyal and unique players in its 71 year history. Nowitzki’s all-time great status is indisputable, but this season will feature Nowitzki in a far different vein than what we are all used to.
The Mavericks have entered a rebuilding phase, there is no question about it. Despite the rebuild appearance, the Mavs have kept enough veterans on the roster to keep them mildly competitive in the saturated western conference.
Dallas will emphasize playing to their strengths this season. The team is loaded with talented on-ball defenders, something Nowitzki has never excelled at. Now at his advanced age of thirty-nine, Nowitzki is a complete liability on that end of the floor, forcing Rick Carlisle to try to hide Nowitzki on defense.
Offensively, the Mavericks would ideally like to play an up-tempo, fast-break oriented style that can showcase Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, and Seth Curry. The Mavs’ offense has more talent than it looks on paper, considering their starting lineup features multiple players known for their defensive capability.
Nowitzki is beginning to take a long-term role with the Mavericks. A mentoring figure by nature, Nowitzki is beginning to focus on making the team’s young, developmental players as impactful as possible. While all the noise is surrounding Dennis Smith Jr., Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith and Nerlens Noel are all extremely important players in the Mavs’ rebuild.
Nowitzki no longer fits the Mavs’ offensive or defensive scheme and game plan. The Mavs are right to send Dirk off as gracefully as possible, but his playing time, numbers, and impact on the game will genuinely diminish this season.
If the Mavs surprise us and begin to have a chance to make the postseason, Nowitzki may return to his old playing time stats and become more of a force with the team, but as the organization begins to shift into a post-Dirk world, they are rightly beginning to prepare for it ahead of time.
Nowitzki is one of the most likable and respected athletes in all of sports, and this year will only be another example of his unwavering loyalty and team-first mentality.