Photo by: Javier Mendia Garcia. 2016.
Dirk Nowitzki has been a member of the Dallas Mavericks for the past 20 season and will begin his 21st season with the team come October. He's racked up over 31,000 points (currently sixth all time behind Wilt Chamberlin and under 200 points ahead of LeBron James), led the Mavericks to two NBA Finals including one championship, and an MVP among other accolades during his tenor. While Nowitzki will retire as the greatest Maverick ever, one of the top five international players ever, and arguably one of the top 20 players ever to play the game of basketball he is certainly far removed from his dominance. Last season the German import was able to score 12 points per game for the Mavericks last year and will most likely see that number decline this upcoming season. In what will most likely be his final season in the NBA, his role decreasing, and body struggling to keep up with the grind of the NBA it seems Dirk has found the player ready to take over as "the guy" in Dallas.
In the 2018 NBA Draft this past July, the Mavericks went all in on Real Madrid 19-year-old superstar Luka Doncic by trading their fifth pick (which would become Trae Young) and future first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the Hawks third pick (which would become Luka Doncic). With one European superstar coming into Dallas and one preparing to leave, the Mavericks seem to have a future set in place after missing the playoffs the last two seasons. Two seasons is a relatively short playoff draught, but for a Maverick team that has seen a surge of regular and post-season success under the reign of Dirk Nowitzki, these past two years have felt like an eternity. Doncic is here and ready to make an immediate impact to give Dallas hope again in a fierce Western Conference.
In a recent interview with the Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 FM The Fan, Nowitzki had high praise for his newest teammate,
"Oh yeah," Nowitzki said. "I could shoot a little bit, but I never had the court vision, the savviness and the stuff that he brings to the game. Just the way he already reads the pick-and-roll. like Chris Paul and these guys do. He's going to be fun to watch especially with a big like DeAndre [Jordan] rolling to the rim, Dwight [Powell] rolling to the rim. He's going to pick some defenses apart, and it should be fun to watch. He's scrimmaged every day, works hard. I really like what I'm seeing. He's incredible with the ball for a big guy. He's unbelievable in pick-and-roll play. The court vision is already unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I saw for a 19/20-year-old. Unbelievable. He's a good shooter when he has time, and I think he's going to be great for us for a long, long time."
Nowitzki, being familiar with coming from Europe to America to play basketball, understands that there may be a transition period for the reigning EuroBasket MVP.
"Obviously, I don't want to put too much pressure on him, either. Coming over from a different country, I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. It's tough to adjust to a lot of things. For me, that took a full year. My first year was really, really tough."
The Mavericks are currently predicted to win 34.5 games by Westgate Los Vegas SuperBook which is tied with Memphis for the fourth worst record in the Western Conference. Will the Mavericks be able to reach the over on their Vegas odds? A lot of that comes down to the play of the NBA's newest European superstar.