Few people consider the Dallas Mavericks a legitimate contender for the upcoming NBA season, but owner Mark Cuban says you should not count out his team. Specifically, he believes that many people are wrongly writing off franchise player Dirk Nowitzki, whom Cuban says can still be an MVP candidate.
Though Dirk was one of the top players in the NBA for over a decade, he had a dropoff last year after returning from arthroscopic knee surgery. He averaged 17.3 points and 31.3 minutes per game last season, which were both the lowest totals since his rookie season. Still, keep in mind that a big reason for the dropoff was his return from knee surgery. At least that’s what Cuban wants you to remember.
“If there’s one missing piece between what everyone is saying and what we’re doing, everybody, I think, has dismissed Dirk — like Dirk is done and he’s on the downside and he can’t play anymore and he’s not the type of contributor that he was,” Cuban said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Galloway and Company, per ESPN Dallas.
Cuban then made a pretty convincing case that Nowitzki still has it.
“If you look at the mess that we had in terms of our guard play and basketball IQ, when Dirk came back and really got into gear, we beat a lot of good teams. I think we were at a 48- or 50-win clip. You put a much better set of players around him, and Dirk is in a situation where he doesn’t have to rush back. He’s had all summer to prepare his body and get ready.”
Cuban pointed out that Karl Malone won an MVP at 35, and told Dirk there’s no reason why he cannot do the same. Cuban concedes that Dirk is not at his peak and might not win MVP, but his point is that the former MVP should not be dismissed.
“Everybody thinks Dirk is done. Maybe he can’t put up 30 a night. Maybe he’s not going to go for 50 when he wants to. He’s not going to have those Dirk vs. Tracy McGrady-type battles, but he’s still going to demand a double-team. He’s still going to be a guy we can go to get a bucket at the end of a game. Dirk is still going to be a guy that will get you buckets when you need them.”
Another good point that Cuban makes? The slights and dismissals have motivated Dirk.
I still consider the Mavs a borderline playoff team, and I don’t see Dirk coming close to being in the MVP conversation, but maybe I won’t completely discount them. They’re just definitely not in the realm with the Spurs, Rockets and Thunder.
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