Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki had a notable streak end last season, as he averaged at least 21 points per game in 12 straight seasons along with averaging at least seven rebounds per game in the first 11 of those campaigns. His 2012-2013 season got a late start as he worked his way back from knee surgery, and Nowitzki averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 53 games (47 starts).
Nowitzki did finish last season strongly though, averaging 19 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over his final 32 games while making just over 45 percent of his three-pointers. Can he carry that momentum into the coming season and resurface as a top tier option for fantasy basketball owners?
The Mavericks made some changes to their roster this offseason, with Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert among those coming to Dallas and O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand, Darren Collison and Chris Kaman the most notable players who will be elsewhere. Venerable veterans Vince Carter and Shawn Marion remain, but Nowitzki’s role as the team’s offensive focal point should not change much.
Ellis is a noted scorer (19.4 points per game for his career) and volume shooter, so his presence should help Nowitzki by taking some defensive attention away. Ellis’ reputation as a ball hog follows him to his new team, but he has averaged six assists per game in each of the last two seasons and may fit well with Nowitzki to form one of the top scoring duos in the league.
Nowitzki is now 35 years old and his best days are clearly behind him, but the knee issues that have bothered him entering the past two seasons seem to behind him at this point. A realistic projection for Nowitzki this year is his 2011-2012 season (21.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game), and his shooting percentages (47.5 percent from the field and 87.7 percent from the line during his career) could actually help his value in leagues that use those categories. Just don’t look for Nowitzki to contribute much in steals or blocked shots, as he has averaged less than one per game in both categories during his career.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.