Dirk Nowitzki has had a celebrated career that seemed to be capped off deservedly with last year’s championship run. Nowitzki is a one-of-a-kind player at 7-feet tall who can shoot from long range and the coordination of a guard. Last season’s run to the championship seemed to be the realization of everything everyone thought Dirk Nowitzki could be.
His first year after the championship has been a big disappointment.
It is a different Mavericks team and the lockout-shortened schedule has slowed down a 33-year-old Nowitzki. But it is clear Dirk is not the same player he was. He sat out a few games to rest a bulky knee and he admitted himself that he did not come into camp completely in shape. He took a few weeks off from basketball to celebrate during the lockout and did not get back to work until later than usual.
Nowitzki is averaging 17.2 points per game and is on pace for his first sub-20 point per game season since 2000, his second year in the league. More troubling, he is shooting 45.5 percent from the floor which would be his lowest since his rookie year (ironically the other lockout year). His PER is at 18.8 and he is posting a 47.3 percent effective field goal percentage.
In other words, this is Nowitzki’s worst season to this point since very early on in his career.
Yet, there is still a feeling that Nowitzki could get one of the reserve spots in the All-Star Game later this month. If you ask Nowitzki about this prospect, he says he is not deserving of the honor this year:
“Not really,” Nowitzki told Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I mean, averaging whatever, 15, 16 points, I don’t think you should be an All-Star.
“But we’ll just have to wait and see. I think there’s a lot of great young talent in this league that deserves to go. I think LaMarcus Aldridge has been stiffed the last couple of years. He’s a great young player, fun to watch. You know Blake (Griffin); and (Kevin) Love is playing great, so there’s a lot of talent at my position. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
It also could be a big boost for the Mavericks to have Nowitzki take that weekend off and rest rather than run around Orlando doing community events and the required All-Star appearances. Nowitzki hopes he can rediscover his rhythm and lead the Mavericks to a late season push and another magical playoff run.
But Nowitzki has also been to the last 10 All-Star games and has started in two. This is still one of the elite players in the league, despite his downswing in statistics. There is still a slow rumble that Nowitzki will get the call from the coaches as a reserve.
It is clear right now that Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge will take the two required forward spots. Likely it means Nowitzki is in the pool for a wild card berth on the coach’s ballot. Crossover Chronicles will have its ballots for the All-Star reserves Thursday before they are officially announced. But this pool of players likely includes Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Paul Millsap and Rudy Gay.
Nowitzki is quite clearly the biggest name. And these All-Star berths are not always about who actually deserves it. Nowitzki could get a lifetime achievement vote from the coaches and be in the lineup in Orlando this month.
That is just the reality of this balloting.