Is Dirk Nowitzki still a superstar in the NBA? This is an interesting question. Let’s take a closer look at his decorated career, and a few major factors affecting his superstar status up to this point.
Nowitzki is entering his 15th year in the NBA, and has compiled an impressive laundry list of accomplishments. He is most recognized by his trademark one-leg fadeaway jump shot that has burned so many defenses at the buzzer; it has even helped him lead the Dallas Mavericks to the franchise’s only NBA Championship.
As a pioneer to the international game, Nowitzki has broken global barriers for the NBA with 11 All Star appearances and an MVP award; making him one of the best international players to ever compete in the NBA.
His career stats? 1108 Games, 39976 minutes, 47.5 percent field goal percentage
Since the Mavericks’ 2010-11 championship season, Nowitzki has been riddled with injuries. Health may be the key factor we should look at when answering questions about his superstar status. Last season, Nowitzki missed 29 games after arthroscopic knee surgery, and once he returned to the line up, it wasn’t until after the All-Star break that we saw glimpses of the Dirk that fans have grown accustom to seeing.
Pre-All Star Break: 23 games, 15.2 points, 42.3 percent FG, 38.8 percent 3-PT, 79.8 percent FT
Post-All Star Break: 30 games, 18.9 points, 50. percent FG, 43.3 percent 3-PT, 91.3 percent FT
Age is another factor that is not on Nowitzki’s side. The 35-year-old says he worked hard this offseason and feels good. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle will do his best to manage playing time for Nowitzki, who still draws the occasional double team from opponents.
0 days Rest: 40.2 percent FG, 38.5 percent 3-PT
1 days Rest: 51.3 percent FG, 44.2 percent 3-PT
Health and age are two major factors working against Nowitzki, but the style of basketball he plays will help preserve his career. Nowitzki is unselfish and can create his own shot. Dirk is a match up nightmare for most teams as he usually plays 20 feet from the basket, which is uncharted territory for your typical 7-footer. Just the fact that Nowitzki can flat-out shoot the ball tacks on a few more successful seasons to his career.
The Mavericks’ front office must still believe that Nowitzki is a superstar, because they failed to sign a top free agent prospect again this offseason. The Mavericks seemed perfectly content with adding aging veterans to the roster instead of rebuilding for the future through the draft. Dallas must feel that Nowitzki has enough left in the tank to get the Mavericks back to the playoffs.
So, to answer the question of whether or not Nowitzki is still a superstar, I would say its more fair to categorize him as a declining superstar with a unique and invaluable skill set that will leave a legacy like none before him.