Dirk Nowitzki: Model of ConsistencyRemember when I asked Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle if he thinks that Dirk Nowitzki is underrated? Instead of suggesting that Nowitzki deserves more acclaim than he receives, Coach Carlisle diplomatically praised the media for voting Nowitzki to the 2009 All-NBA First Team--but Hall of Fame contributor/two-time NBA Coach of the Year/ESPN analyst Hubie Brown completely agrees with my take on Nowitzki. Late in ESPN's Wednesday night broadcast of Dallas' 100-86 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder--during which Nowitzki scored a game-high 35 points on blistering 13-18 field goal shooting while tying for game-high honors with 11 rebounds--play by play announcer Dan Shulman asked Brown, "Is it possible that a guy who has been as good as he is for as long as he has been that good--is it possible Dirk Nowitzki is still a little bit underappreciated?"
Brown immediately replied, "Oh, I think so and I've always felt that way. I feel that for what he has accomplished--and even the year that he won the MVP (2006-07), a lot of guys questioned (why) he won the MVP--and yet when you back up the stats and see everything that he did, it is just one of those freakish things that happen that certain players, no matter what they do, no matter how consistent, no matter how overwhelming their stats are, people still do not want to give them the total recognition."
Nowitzki has averaged at least 21.8 ppg for nine straight seasons and is well on course to make it ten in a row with his career-high tying 26.6 ppg average this season. During that time Nowitzki has averaged at least 8.4 rpg each year (he is slightly behind that pace with an 8.2 rpg average so far this season). As Brown pointed out earlier in the telecast, Nowitzki has consistently been an accurate shooter from the field, three point range and the three point line; during Nowitzki's aforementioned MVP campaign he joined the elite .500 (field goal percentage)--.400 (three point field goal percentage)--.900 (free throw percentage) Club, whose members include sharpshooters Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Steve Nash.
For those of you who think you know NBA basketball (but really don't) and say that Nowitzki is not a clutch player, consider that this season he has shot 55-55 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter/overtime--and remember that his playoff scoring and rebounding averages (25.5 and 11.0 respectively) are significantly better than his regular season scoring and rebounding averages (22.5 and 8.4); for comparison purposes, note that renowned playoff assassin Reggie Miller not only averaged fewer points in the postseason than Nowitzki (20.6 ppg) but that Miller's playoff scoring average is 2.4 ppg higher than his regular season scoring average compared to a 3.0 differential for Nowitzki, who advanced past the first round in six of his first 11 seasons while Miller's Indiana Pacers made it out of the first round seven times in 18 seasons.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:43 AM