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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dirk Nowitzki Knee Injury Magnifies His Importance to Dallas Mavericks

Though Dirk Nowitzki has won an MVP award and gone to nine straight All-Star games, you won’t find his name in the conversation for best player in the NBA. LeBron, Kobe, Dwight, Dwyane, Durant — everyone talks about those guys, but Dirk seems to play without too many people noticing. Matter of conjecture, Dirk’s steadiness and reliability has made his constantly stellar play go under-appreciated.

It’s a sad commentary on our society and media that a player needs to get hurt for many of us to see his value, but that’s happened with Dirk. Nowitzki has missed the last nine games for the Mavericks since spraining his knee early in the team’s December 27th win over the Thunder. They lost three in a row after he first got hurt, beat the Cavs and Blazers in back-to-back games, and now they’ve lost four in a row.

You could argue that the Mavs have had a poor record since losing Dirk to injury because of a tough schedule, but that would be inaccurate. Four of the eight teams to whom they’ve lost have losing records. Two of the team’s losses have come against the team with the NBA’s best record — the Spurs — while another came against the Magic. Even though both teams are good, the Mavs beat each one earlier in the year when Dirk was in the lineup.

Dirk has continued to put up the same numbers he has the last 12 years, never missing more than six games in a season. He’s consistently a 25-8 guy who can light it up from the outside and use his 7″ height to rebound inside. The minutes, boards, and steals are down slightly for Dirk this year because of all the help he has from his teammates, but his field goal percentage is an astronomical 54.5.

Nowitzki has been a top three MVP finisher three times in his career and led the league in player efficiency rating twice. Many people may not have realized how good Dirk is, or maybe they had forgotten. Let Dallas’ 2-7 record without him this year remind us how valuable the guy really is.

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