Dallas Mavericks: Can Dirk Nowitzki catch Michael Jordan?
By Kohl Rast
Dallas Mavericks superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, celebrated a major accomplishment Monday night, passing Wilt Chamberlain for 6th on the NBA’s All-Time career scoring list. He is now 866 points away from Michael Jordan.
During his press conference after the game, Dirk Nowitzki talked all about what this achievement meant to him and how big of an accomplishment it is to pass Wilt Chamberlain in scoring, one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. Dallas Mavericks fans have been blessed to see 21 fantastic seasons of Dirk basketball which all led to this moment.
At this point, Dirk has scored more points than all but 5 players in NBA history and he did it all with one team. Kobe Bryant is the only player ahead of Dirk on the list that scored all his points with one team.
So as of now, the list goes: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), LeBron James (32,439), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Dirk Nowitzki (31,427). The big German is 866 points away from passing MJ.
Hypothetically speaking, if Dirk played another year after this one, that would give him 93 games to get 866 points (11 more this season and a full 82 next). It would be pretty optimistic to believe Dirk could play a full 82 game season at 41 years old, but let’s focus on the optimism for today. Nowitzki would have to average 9.3 points for the remainder of his career to catch MJ. That would be 3.3 points per game more than he has averaged so far this year.
That said, over the last 14 games, Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 9 points. It hasn’t come easy with the much slower start to the season than was expected, but once Dirk hit his stride, he has proven to be the spot up shooter that Mavs fans always knew he would be once his agility left him. It was only last season that Dirk was still averaging 12 points per game.
So is it possible for Dirk to pass Michael Jordan and move into the top 5 all-time? Yes. Is it likely? Not by a long shot. Even though I would actually expect Dirk’s scoring average to be better than 6 points per game next year if he did come back, I can’t see a situation where he plays a full 82 game season.
I believe a 70 game season would be believable, but if that were the case, his average would need to be 10.7 points per game. If he were able to stay healthy, this would be a very intriguing story line to pay attention to down the stretch of next season, when the Mavs are likely to be a playoff team.
It really doesn’t matter if Dirk makes it to this milestone or not. The fact is that we have been blessed with 21 years of Nowitzki highlights. Whether he decides to call it a career or come back for one more, Dirk has changed the city of Dallas for the better in a way that very few people can say.