The Dallas Mavericks had a keen eye on Dirk Nowitzki in the 1998 draft, but nobody expected him to be an all-time great. He struggled as a rookie before producing two decades of dominance. Dirk was special. He never left the Mavs to chase a ring and his determination to bring a championship to Dallas was unmatched. Nowitzki made it a reality in 2011 and cemented himself as an all-time great.
There have been plenty of opportunities to celebrate Dirk since his retirement. His street naming, jersey retirements, statue unveiling, and Hall of Fame induction were all chances to show Nowitzki a ton of love but is never enough. Dirk is the Mavericks and will forever be their GOAT.
During Nowitzki’s 21 years with the franchise, there were plenty of regrettable decisions. From striking out in free agency to failed roster moves, the Mavs always tried to build a contender around their superstar. It did not always work, which led to some unwanted starters. With 20 games started as the criteria, who were the worst around Dirk?
Ranking worst Dallas Mavericks starters of the Dirk Nowitzki era
15. Erick Dampier
The Mavs handed Dampier one of the worst contracts in NBA history in 2004 when he inked a seven-year $73 million deal. The tenth overall pick in 1996 was coming off a breakout year with the Warriors where he averaged 12.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game. Dallas needed a starting center next to Dirk Nowitzki and jumped at the chance to sign Dampier.
The 6’11 big man never replicated his Golden State play. Over his six seasons in Dallas, Dampier averaged 6.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 24.4 minutes per game. He never lived up to his massive contract, despite being a steady starter. The Mavs traded him for Tyson Chandler in 2010, which was a key move in their 2011 title run.
Erick Dampier left a ton to be desired as the Dallas Mavericks starting center, which earned him a spot as one of the worst in the Dirk Nowitzki era. He was a strong rebounder, screener, and rim protector, but the Mavs needed him to be a double-double machine to live up to his contract.