I have been one of the biggest critics of Dirk Nowitski over the years and I have no problem admitting it. Whether it was he and the Mavs being up 2-0 in the 2006 NBA Finals and losing four straight to lose the title or winning the MVP, along with 67 games only to be knocked out of the 1st round of the playoffs by the eight seed Golden State in 2007. It was hard after those two seasons not to label Dirk soft and that he was one of those guys who came up short in big spots. I thought he relied too much on the 3 point shot when he could post guys up on the block and use his size.
This year in the playoffs Nowitski has taken his play to a new level, it’s amazing to see him play this well. In my eyes he was already a first ballot hall of famer and the greatest foreign player the NBA has ever seen, but he is on a flatout tear. In fifteen playoff games he his averaging 28.4 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting 51% from the field, 51% from the three point line and 93% from the foul line. I have to say, in my lifetime this has been on of the better playoff performances I’ve seen.
There has a transformation of sorts in Dirk’s game, he relies less on standing at the three point and shooting spot up jumpers like he did in his previous years. He now operates in the mid-post area and abuses defenders by using his 7 foot frame and high release to score with ease. His array of fall away and off balance shots he has mastered is like nothing the NBA has ever seen. There has never been another player at his size with the style of game in NBA history with his ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot, and face up from 16-20 feet out. He has even became a better rebounder and puts forth more effort on defense as well.
Now he has led the Dallas Mavericks back to the NBA Finals for a second time, he has the chance to mark his place as one of the NBA’s all time greats with a win over the Miami Heat or the Chicago Bulls. I would love to see him finally win a title personally, but if the Heat hold on to win the East it’s going to be tough. But let it been known, Dirk is playing the best basketball of his career and will give the Mavs a legit chance at winning it all.