Underrated Dirk Nowitzki Joins Elite 30,000 Point ClubDirk Nowitzki joined the 30,000 point club on Wednesday night, scoring 25 points in Dallas' 122-111 win over the L.A. Lakers. Pro basketball fans are on a first name (or nickname) basis with the other six members of that club: Kareem, Mailman, Kobe, Jordan, Wilt, Dr. J.
Julius "Dr. J" Erving is the most overlooked member of the club, because many media outlets inexplicably fail to account for his ABA points--but Erving deserves recognition as the first "mid-size" player to break the 30,000 point barrier, a feat only accomplished by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain at the time that Erving joined the club in 1987; indeed, it would be 14 years after Erving retired before Jordan (in his second comeback, this time as a Wizard) became the club's fourth member and just second "mid-size" player, a feat matched about a decade later by the club's third and final "mid-size" member, Kobe Bryant. Kareem, Wilt and Dirk are/were at least 7-feet tall, while Mailman was a 6-9 power player, a description also befitting LeBron James (who is on track to be the next player to join the club).
While Erving is the club's most overlooked player and is a highly underrated player as well, Nowitzki may be the most underrated 30,000 point scorer. He is perceived by many as "just" a jump shooter but Nowitzki in his prime could score from anywhere on the court. Nowitzki was also a very good rebounder, particularly early in his career when he tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record by posting at least 30 points and at least 15 rebounds in four straight playoff games--something that Wilt and Shaq and Moses never accomplished. Think about that for a moment and then also consider that Nowitzki is one of just four players who have averaged at least 25 ppg and 10 rpg in the postseason, joining Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor and Hakeem Olajuwon; he performed even better in the playoffs than he did in the regular season, which is a rare trait. Nowitzki notched 29 playoff games with at least 30 points and at least 10 rebounds, four more than Larry Bird; the career leader is Baylor (56) and the only other players ahead of Nowitzki are Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Olajuwon, Pettit and Tim Duncan. Nowitzki was never a great defender but as he got older, wiser and stronger he learned how to use his length and his foot speed to be at least adequate at that end of the court.
Nowitzki has to be included on the short list of greatest power forwards of all-time. In the post Michael Jordan era, I would rank him behind only Tim Duncan. Kevin Garnett fans may go ballistic after reading that sentence, but Nowitzki did more with less over a longer period of time than Garnett did; Garnett spent most of his career struggling to get out of the first round of the playoffs and when he won a championship he was one cog in the Big Three. Nowitzki was without question a better clutch player than Garnett, who only enjoyed any playoff success when he was paired with someone else who was willing and able to make big shots down the stretch (Sam Cassell in Minnesota, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Boston).
posted by David Friedman @ 4:10 AM