DJ & BJ’s Three-Point Take: The Legacy of Dirk Nowitzki
DJ Allen: @DJAllen23
BJ Boyer: @wcboyer24
Dirk Nowitzki is in the latter stages of his career but is still playing at a very high level. In the midst of his 17th season, Dirk is part of a competitive Dallas Maverick team that has a chance to compete for a championship in the tough Western Conference. Nowitzki has done a lot for the Mavericks organization as well as the NBA in general, but we wonder when it’s all said and done, what will his legacy be?
DJ: Dirk Nowitzki has helped to evolve the game of basketball in many ways that fans may not know of. The emergence of “stretch 4’s” really started in the early 90’s, but when Dirk entered the league in 1998 he took it to new level. He posed huge matchup problems for defenders every night because he was a threat from every spot on the floor. Dirk has an all-around game in the essence that he can score in the post, shoot the spot-up three, drive to the basket, or pull-up for a mid-range jumper. Teams hate preparing for him due to the simple fact that he has a deadly shot but to make it worse, it’s nearly impossible to block because he’s seven feet tall. In basketball today, you can see where Dirk Nowitzki has made his stamp on the game because a lot of forwards and centers are now taking the time to improve their mid-range and three-point shot. We are seeing a lot more pick-and-pops in the NBA with almost every team containing a big that can shoot from the outside. Dirk’s famous “one-legged fadeaway” has also taken the league by storm. Many players, from Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony to Marc Gasol are adding this move to their arsenal. It’s a great move and a difficult one to defend, but no one may perfect it like Nowitzki did.
BJ: With his sweet jump-shooting ability and feathery touch, Dirk Nowitzki has certainly helped usher in a new brand of basketball in the NBA. According to NBA.com/Stats, only twelve forwards made 60 or more three-pointers in the 1998-1999 season, which was Nowitzki’s rookie year. Amongst those forwards were Dell Curry and Paul Pierce (both small forwards,) and two players who were noted three-point marksmen. In the 2013-14 season, over fifty forwards connected on 60 or more three-pointers, including big men Kevin Love and Channing Frye. Love and Frye combined to make 350 three-pointers in 13-14, only three less than Dee Brown (135), Tim Hardaway (112), and Reggie Miller (106), combined to make in 98-99.* Shooting is arguably the most important aspect of basketball today, and if a team has a shortage of shooters, they’re title chances are most likely toast. As for Dirk’s patented one-legged fadeaway, I bet at one point or another you’ve hoisted up a shot in pick-up basketball and howled out “DIRK” as you hoped to perfectly emulate the uncanny maneuver. As DJ previously mentioned, many stars have imitated Dirk’s signature move, but none will come close to the original.
Brown, Hardaway and Miller were the top three in three-point field goals made that season.
DJ: The 7 ft. shooting forward for the Dallas Mavericks has also proven himself a winner over the tenure of his career. Dirk started off in Germany where he became a student of the game. Nowitzki won a Bronze medal for his country in the 2002 FIBA World Cup and in the NBA, Dirk has taken his team to the playoffs 13 times. He’s reached the Finals twice and won his first championship in 2011, beating the highly favored “Big Three” of the Miami Heat. Dirk went on to win the Finals MVP that year in which he was the second European player to ever win the award. The Dallas Mavericks are in contention to be one of the top teams in the West this season. They are currently ranked 5th in the West and are playing good basketball after the recent acquisition of Rajon Rondo. Dirk re-signed to Dallas and took less money so that management could acquire pieces for their team to contend, and that plan might have paid off for him. Dirk Nowitzki recently passed Moses Malone, gaining the 7th spot on the all time scoring list with 27,456 points. Dirk can still score with some of the best of them which makes me believe that if he can stay healthy he can easily end up in the top-five of all-time scorers in a few more years.
BJ: Dirk Nowitzki is a winner and if you want to bark at me for stating this, just take a quick glance at all of his accolades. Nowitzki has always been a prominent figure in the European Basketball landscape, racking up a plethora of awards and honors throughout his illustrious career. He is a two-time FIBA Europe Player of the Year, he was named FIBA EuroBasket MVP in 2005 and he was the FIBA World Cup MVP in 2002 when he helped his team captured the Bronze medal in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. In addition to his very decorated international history, Nowitzki has also made his mark in the Association. Nowitzki was named NBA MVP in 2007, he’s been a four-time All-NBA First Team selection, he’s the Mavericks’ all-time leading scorer with 27,456 points and he’s a member of the 50-40-90 club (shooting 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point line and 90% from the free throw line in one season.) And since the 2000-2001 regular season, Dallas has won at least 50 games and made the postseason every year with the exception of 2011-12 (lockout shortened season, lost in first round to Oklahoma City,) 2012-13 (41 wins,) and 2013-14 (49 wins, lost in first round to San Antonio.) During that impressive run, Dallas won 60+ games three times, including a 67 win season in 06-07.
DJ: With Dallas having such a strong team, it takes a huge load off of Dirk, allowing him to look to Rondo, Chandler Parsons, and Monta Ellis to takeover when he’s winded, which might help him extend his career a few more years. I believe he still has a few more seasons in him and with his scoring ability, it will be interesting to see where he lands when it’s all said and done. Dirk’s career has been fun to watch. He has accomplished so much and has proven to be a superstar in this league. Looking back I’m sure he wishes he could’ve won more rings, but his career isn’t quite over yet so only time will tell. In my opinion, I believe he’s a top-five player of my generation and when it’s all over he will be inducted into the Hall-of-Fame without question. Some say he’s the best international player to ever play the game and some say he’s in the discussion; but as his career is winding down, what do you believe will be Dirk Nowitzki’s legacy?
BJ: The Western Conference is a rough and rugged battleground, and the ferociousness of the conference may prevent Dallas from making a title run come playoff time. Although the Mavericks’ current roster may allow for an extension of Dirk’s remarkable career, it may not result in another world championship for the 12-time All-Star. Is Dirk Nowitzki a top-five player of my generation? Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are just a few of the all-time great players that had a very prosperous 2000’s, and some even in the 2010’s. Dallas’ improbable Finals victory over the Miami Heat in 2011 certainly established Dirk’s legacy as an all-time great player and winner, and to omit him from any discussion pertaining to the best players of my generation would be foolishness.
Is Dirk Nowitzki a top-five player of his generation? Where would you rank him when talking about the greatest players of all-time? Hit us on Twitter with thoughts and opinions @BBallSociety_