Nowitzki continues to thrive at top level

DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki may be in the twilight of a remarkable career but the 35-year-old German giant continues to put up statistics that reflect his stature as the best European to play in the National Basketball Association.
Dirk Nowitzki likes the way the Mavericks' offense is shaping up as the heart of the NBA season arrives. Net photo.
Dirk Nowitzki likes the way the Mavericks' offense is shaping up as the heart of the NBA season arrives. Net photo.

DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki may be in the twilight of a remarkable career but the 35-year-old German giant continues to put up statistics that reflect his stature as the best European to play in the National Basketball Association.

The 7-foot (2.13 metres) Dallas Mavericks forward has long been renowned for his shooting accuracy and unique one-legged fadeaway, and ranks 13th in the league’s all-time scoring list with 25 882 career points.

Nowitzki scored a team-high 27 points for Dallas in a wild 129-127 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and his fellow players expect him to be a significant and inspirational presence in the NBA for at least another four or five years.

“He really changes the game,” backup forward Brandan Wright, 26, told Reuters about the influential German after scoring 13 points on six-of-seven shooting against the host Clippers at a packed Staples Centre.

“He’s seven foot and shooting the ball like that, he has to be accounted for. He can fill it up and score from anywhere on the court - from three-point range, going to the block and he can work the mid-range really well.

“When he’s stroking it in with the (three-pointer) and the deep two-point shots, he’s pretty much unguardable. And even better, he’s a great teammate. Superstars can be a little different but he’s a guy that you want to be around.”

Asked how long he expected to see Nowitzki continuing to flourish as a top NBA player, Wright replied: “I think he can play to a high level for another four or five years.

“If he takes care of himself, I think he can play as long as he wants. Obviously Father Time catches up with all of us. He still has a nice chunk of career left if he wants it.”

Nowitzki, the ninth player chosen in the 1998 Draft, is an 11-time All-Star who was awarded the league’s most valuable player award for the 2006-07 regular season.

‘SOFT’ PLAYER

Once derided as a ‘soft’ player for plying his trade away from the basket despite his size, the jump-shooting German has established an enviable reputation in the league because of his all-round skills.

“Well he’s seven-foot with a jump shot! What more can you say?” forward Shawn Marion, a four-time All-Star who has played for the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Mavericks during his 14-year NBA career, told Reuters with a broad smile.

“He’s consistent with it, and he has a sick, one-legged fadeaway as well and it’s hard to stop it. He opens up a lot of different things for us, the way teams play us. I don’t think they know what to do or how to deal with it.

“He spreads the floor, and not being a traditional big inside the paint, all of his perimetre mixes are hard to guard. With (opposing) bigs, sometimes it can take them too long to pick it up and figure it out that he’s on the perimetre.”

Nowitzki, the NBA’s first European winner of the league’s MVP award and the first to surpass 20 000 career points, has played a huge role in defining the Mavericks’ culture, according to the team’s billionaire owner, Mark Cuban.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News